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Malaysia Asia

Malaysia Asia

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

Malaysia Asia

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malaysia-asia

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Asia

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2012-02-23 16:12:32

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Recent News

  • Sarawak Tourism Partners Malaysia Airlines at WTM
    Excellent news for Sarawak Tourism as a partnership between Malaysia Airlines embarks on a journey to boost Sarawak tourism, not only in the United Kingdom but also around Europe.The Sarawak Tourism Board has renewed and expanded its partnership deal with Malaysia Airlines during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the World Travel Market in London on November 4, 2019.Malaysia Airlines and Sarawak Tourism Board PartnershipUnder the agreement, Sarawak Tourism Board together with Malaysia Airlines will jointly invest in promoting Sarawak as a naturally preferred destination for the overseas market.This also includes funding arrangements for campaigns and promotional activities to boost both domestic and international arrivals into Sarawak. The partnership involves marketing campaigns with leading travel agents such as;Amogha Tours and Travel Sdn BhdOne Wayang Tour Sdn BhdGreatown Travel Sdn BhdCPH Travel AgenciesEcogreen HolidaysGrand Margherita HotelRiverside Majestic HotelSara Hospitality Sdn BhdBa'Kelalan, one of the most beautiful villages in the highlands of Sarawak. This is to increase Sarawak visibility and generate sales, as well as organized visits for travel agents and the media to experience all that Sarawak has to offer. The destinations will also be promoted on the Malaysia Airlines website and feature a number of digital campaigns led by the national carrier.The MOU was signed by the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Malaysian Airline System Bhd, Captain Izham Ismail for Malaysia Airlines Berhad and Sarawak Tourism Board, Chief Executive Officer, Sharzede Datu Haji Salleh Askor.?Sarawak Tourism sees this as a strategic partnership with Malaysia Airlines to promote Sarawak and leveraging the Visit Sarawak Campaign,? Sharzede said. She is confident that this partnership will give tourists and visitors from the United Kingdom a chance to experience new and diverse products to enhance their Sarawak experiences.Kuching City in SarawakConclusionThe World Travel Market (WTM) is a three-day trade fair held in London bringing together travel professionals, key industry buyers, journalists, digital influencers, students and tourism ministers to discuss business, innovation, and trends in the travel industry. Last year?s WTM 2018 event sparked over a million meetings, resulting in around £3 billion in contracts.To take advantage of Malaysia Airlines? great prices, guests can book their tickets at Malaysia Airlines? participating travel agents or visit the Malaysia Airlines website.
    Tuesday 5th of November 2019 08:05:00 AM
  • Best Food to Eat in Tawau
    Ever wondered what is the best food to eat in Tawau, Sabah? Or what is the famous food here? This article will help you narrow down the places that you can find them.Not only that, all of the food listed here has been personally tried by me during my many trips to Tawau on the east coast of Sabah Borneo.This Tawau food list also indicates if the food is Halal or no pork served, hence many of these places are Muslim-friendly too. Best Food to Eat in TawauSeafood is one of the must-try local food when you are in Tawau.Before I start, Tawau is one of the coastal cities that is located on the east coast of Sabah and is well known as the main gateway to popular islands like Sipadan and Mabul Island. The destination is often overlooked as many visitors will fly in and head straight to their next destination which is usually the town of Semporna where they catch their boats to the islands.As Tawau is quite laid-back and a little original compared to cities like Kota Kinabalu, you will see that it is very different, in terms of being a city. But having been this way, the culinary rewards are pretty exciting, where you get to explore local food which has never changed since the day they started selling it. This is what a true foodie will appreciate, rather than the commercial 'stall to shop concept', which has taken Malaysia by storm. Personally, for me, a famous or popular stall will always have the realness and the authentic charm, and when people try to be different and bring the concept to shopping malls, this is where it fails. Nasi Kuning Ikan on the left and Nasi Kuning Ayam on the right.1. Nasi Kuning TawauOne local dish that is most sought after in Tawau is no other than the extremely popular Nasi Kuning or translated as yellow rice.But for foreigners visiting Tawau, please do not use the name 'yellow rice', as you will not expect any response from the locals. The dish is known as Nasi Kuning and that is it.Restoran Haji Tamrin in Tawau.The most famous place is no other than Nasi Kuning Haji Tamrin, which is located in the city area of Tawau.There are in fact numerous places that sell this dish, and most of them are just jumping on the bandwagon due to the popularity of this dish. Nasi Kuning TawauWhat to Order: Nasi Kuning (Chicken and Fish)Where Are They: 4188, Jalan Sim Hua Seng, TawauHalal: YesPrice: $$Selection of Pisang Cheese and other banana snacks. 2. Pisang Cheese TawauThere is no doubt that this is one of the very local favorites found here and has been for many years. Though this dish originates from Indonesia, the Pisang Cheese Tawau has become a very popular dessert.They don't only sell the cheese fried banana fritters but they have a full range menu catering to rice, noodles and many other dishes.The Pisang Cheese menu at Indo Cafe in TawauBe careful as there may be other shops attempting to ride on the popularity of this dish, but the brand Indo Cafe has two branches. One in the city and one out of Tawau. Pisang Cheese Tawau What to Order: The Pisang Cheese hands down. But if you have a sweet tooth, try the Pisang Coklet. Where Are They: 542, Jalan Bantu, TawauHalal: YesPrice: $Some of the seafood dishes that I ordered. 3. Tawau Fresh SeafoodThis is no doubt the main thing that anyone visiting Tawau should try and I personally vouch for it. After having eaten fresh seafood around Sabah, namely in Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan, Tawau is still the best and the cheapest.You can find a row of seafood restaurants along Jalan Chen Fook in the Tawau City area, and the restaurant I visited was Kam Ling Fresh Seafood and Goof View Seafood restaurants along this busy road.Kam Ling Seafood with an interesting choice of fresh seafood. I will also recommend that you head here at about 6.00 PM to order early as the seafood restaurants here can get really crowded from around 7.00 PM.One more thing is that you need not worry about the size of your group to eat the local seafood. When I was here, it was two of us, who just ordered a few dishes, and the price was just under RM100. Tawau Fresh Seafood RestaurantsWhat to Order: Anything seafood, the shells, fish, crab and so on. Where Are They: Along Jalan Chen Fook, TawauHalal: No Pork ServedPrice: $$ to $$$The famous Tawau Mee Tauhu.4. Mee Tauhu TawauThis dish is also a very popular dish among the Muslim travelers heading here and also for just about anyone who loves noodles and tau foo.Also, there are plenty of places that are selling the Mee Tauhu in Tawau, so finding the right one can be a little difficult.During my trip here, I must have seen at least six restaurants selling the local favorite noodles, and with much asking around, there are only two restaurants that are quite popular.One of them is Kedai Kopi Tawau, which is found along Jalan Kubota in the main city area. But again, the locals here have their own favorite place for Mee Tauhu.Kedai Kopi Tawau Mee TauhuWhat to Order: Mee TauhuWhere Are They: Jalan Kubota, 91000 Tawau, SabahHalal: YesPrice: $ to $$Sup Payau on the left and Nasi Goreng Payau on the right.5. Nasi Goreng and Sup Payau TawauThis is probably one of my favorites whenever I am in Tawau and you can find this little restaurant just outside the Tawau airport.Ever since being introduced to the Kari Payau (Deer Curry) back in 2007, I have always made it a point to visit this restaurant called Bibiq Corner, which is about five minutes' walk from the airport.The interesting menu at Sup Payau Bibiq Corner The restaurant is very local and simple, but it is the unique wild deer that is served that captivates the foodie. Most Malaysians will relate to this dish as it is cooked very local style.When my flight lands at Tawau, I will usually take a walk over and have my Nasi Goreng Payau, and then only head towards town. If you are taking Grab, then just walk over and call your Grab from here.Bibiq CornerWhat to Order: Sup Payau and Nasi Goreng PayauWhere Are They: Jalan Airport, 91000 Tawau, SabahHalal: YesPrice: $ to $$A sunset scene at the Tawau Esplanade.What else to do in Tawau?While you are here in Tawau, you may also have some free time to explore one of the least visited cities of Sabah. You may be here for work, a quick family trip, or even for a wedding and you might have some extra time to wander around. And for those seeking on what else you can do here, I have written a comprehensive article about the many things to do in Tawau for just about anyone. Map of Tawau's main city area. How To Go To Tawau? There are direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and various other cities in Malaysia. Airlines that fly there include Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia where the latter has more flights.For those traveling from Kota Kinabalu, the best option for traveling to Tawau is still a flight. If you have time to spare, you can always travel overland via bus or rented car.This is called Nasi Lemak Bakar, not sure if it is still available in Tawau city. ConclusionAre you planning to visit Tawau anytime soon? If you are, I hope that this list of the best food to eat in Tawau has come in handy for you. You can also follow David Travels Instagram account where I share my random photos of travel and food, while Malaysia Asia is more focused on travel photography and destinations. If you have any comments or feedback, I would love to hear them in the comment form below. And if you think there are other dishes that I may have missed, do let me know. 
    Monday 4th of November 2019 09:30:00 AM
  • AirAsia Starts Flights to Okinawa
    Japan fans will be thrilled to know that AirAsia is starting flights to Okinawa in Japan and this makes the tropical island in the south of Japan the sixth Japanese destination for the airline. The news of the Okinawa flights with AirAsia was announced on the 30th of November 2019, where the four times weekly flights will commence on the 22nd of January 2020 via Taipei, Taiwan, and land at Naha Airport which is only 4 kilometers from Naha City. AirAsia Flights to OkinawaOne of the beautiful scenes at OkinawaOkinawa has always been one of the desired holiday destinations for many Malaysians and also Southeast Asians over the years. Now with AirAsia opening up this direct route, many will have the opportunity to explore this beautiful Japanese tropical paradise, which is a dream come true. With a four times weekly flight schedule to Okinawa via Taipei, this provides travellers with options on travel dates that make it easier to plan.  However, the scheduled flight only commences on the 22nd of January 2020, but the flight bookings can be made from the airlines' website. Apart from Okinawa, AirAsia also flies to five other Japanese cities which are Narita and Haneda in Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, Fukuoka and Nagoya (via Bangkok). For the official press release of this flight, the AirAsia Malaysia CEO Benyamin Ismail had this to say; ?Our rapid expansion into Japan continues following the launch of services to Fukuoka and Tokyo Narita earlier this year. Okinawa is an island paradise that offers a different Japanese experience for leisure travellers, including white sandy beaches with clear blue waters, some of the world?s most famous diving spots and unique Ryukyuan cuisine. ?Like Fukuoka, we are building the foundation for more AirAsia flights to serve Okinawa in the near future, strengthening our regional network and allowing more travellers to discover the unique cultural heritage of this amazing destination.?Price of AirAsia Flights to OkinawaBIG Members are eligible to purchase fares from Kuala Lumpur to Okinawa Naha starting from RM239 one-way on standard seats, and RM899 one-way on the award-winning Premium Flatbeds.This promotion starts from 31 October 2019 at 12:00 pm (GMT+8) until 2 November 2019 for travel between 22 January 2020 and 27 March 2020. For more booking information, please visit the AirAsia website. One of the beautiful beaches at Okinawa IslandTransit at Taipei International AirportThe good news is that travelers from Kuala Lumpur to Okinawa are not required to obtain a Taiwan visa during their one hour fifteen minutes stopover in Taipei.After the transit, they may return to their seats after clearing a quick security check of their carry-on bags and inflight belongings.This also means that you are not allowed to exit the Taipei airport, but remain only in the transit area. However, for those creative travelers who want to kill two birds with one stone can do so by booking your Taipei trip and then your Okinawa connecting flight the following day or days later. The AirAsia flight schedule to OkinawaHow Long Does It Take To Fly From Kuala Lumpur to Okinawa? This is a common question by most travelers and the answer is 8.5 hours. This, of course, includes your transit time in Taipei for about one hour. In total, you need to factor in around 12 hours of travel, transit and flight time. Meaning, from the time you travel from your home to the airport, you need at least two hours before check-in. The flight is 7.35 AM in the morning, meaning you need to be at KLIA2 at about 5.30 AM. Traveling to KLIA2 requires around one hour, so you need to leave your home at 4.30 AM or 4.00 AM to be safe. Getting up from bed, preparing, final checking and waiting for your ride-hailing or taxi means you need to be up at about 2.00 AM or 3.00 AM.Probably, there is no doubt that you will end up taking a nice morning nap along the journey to Taipei. This is also best done after you have your in-flight breakfast on AirAsia, so do add-in that Santai meal when you book your flight tickets.Map showing where Okinawa Island is located at.Where is Okinawa? Okinawa Island is one of Japan?s 47 prefectures comprising 160 islands in the East China Sea. It is also located quite close to Taiwan. Prior to AirAsia flying to Okinawa, the only other way to get here was via Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing and a few Japanese cities. From Malaysia, there were no direct flights, and many had to take connecting flights to get to Okinawa. There are even some local travel agents that sell special charter flights to Okinawa. Okinawa has long been a popular holiday destination for the Japanese, while its subtropical climate reminds many travellers of Hawaii, complete with coral-fringed waters and a very relaxed way of life. ConclusionMany thought that this flight route would never materialize, and surprisingly, even for me, the news came out just before the end of 2019. This simply means that many Malaysians and Southeast Asians can now start making plans to visit one of the most beautiful islands that Japan has to offer. With the news that AirAsia starting flights to Okinawa, we can assume that many will be making plans to book their dream tropical vacation on this beautiful Japanese island. 
    Wednesday 30th of October 2019 12:24:00 PM
  • My Nature Resort Sepilok Review
    For anyone planning to visit Sandakan in Sabah to explore the wildlife and nature, I have done a review for My Nature Resort Sepilok, one of the most beautiful accommodations found here. This high-end nature resort sits at the end of the Rainforest Discovery Center or RDC and is known as probably the best resort in the entire Sepilok. Review of My Nature Resort Sepilok The swimming pool at the resortWhile most Asians will probably make day-trips to Sepilok for the many nature-related attractions here, the foreign travelers will opt to spend a few days in Sepilok. The reason for this is because most travelers would prefer to take their time and explore each of the attractions here without having to rush. And when you plan for this, you will be looking for accommodation that suits your style or travel regardless if it is simple or elaborate. Over the last ten years of visiting Sandakan, I have had the luxury of staying at various resorts or lodges found here and in 2018, I was fortunate enough to stay at My Nature Resort. My trips to Sandakan are wildlife and nature-related, hence I visit yearly for the Borneo Bird Festival, which is held at the Rainforest Discovery Center (RDC). The resort also sits on a private hilly land area of 25 acres that are covered with lush primary rainforest. There are no additional special facilities like spa, gym or gift shops available except for one master restaurant that provides all-day dining. The king-size bedroom unit at the resort.What kind of rooms is available here? There are only 12 semi-detached chalet units available at My Nature Resort, making this one of the premium eco-resorts in Sandakan. In total, there are 24 rooms that are eco-friendly and created to reduce carbon footprint by using biodegradable products and even solar panels. All units are fully made from wood and fitted with modern amenities like air-conditioning, flat-screen television with Astro satellite service and attached bathroom with hot water showers. The king-sized bed at the chalet.The rooms consist of;9 double king-size bedrooms9 twin-sharing rooms6 family roomsThe non-family rooms also come with a rainforest-viewing balcony, which means that you have an unobstructed view of the Bornean rainforest. The balconies are also spacious meaning you can easily move around to observe nature and of course the many birds that come around in the mornings or late afternoons. Photos of My Nature Resort SepilokBelow are random photos taken in and around the resort when I stayed here in December of 2018. The weather was fairly great with sudden showers as from November till February is the rainy season. The entrance area into the private property where the resort is located. The main reception and welcome area of the resort.My Nature Resort has a beautiful pool that is surrounded by the chalet units.The main walkway and driveway to the chalets.I call this breakfast with a rainforest view.Wine selection that guests can choose.My breakfast with a viewThe chalet with a rainforest view.The overview of the chalet room.The chalet bathroom which is spacious.The tastefully done room comes with modern amenities. The sofa area in the chalet is quite large and great as a daybed. Where is My Nature Resort Sepilok? The location of this resort is at the end of Jalan Fabia Road, which is the main road leading into the Rainforest Discovery Center or RDC. The resort sits on private property and there is no other accommodation found here, making this an exclusive location for those seeking a quiet nature escape.Map showing where My Nature Resort is located in Sepilok.How to Book a Stay at My Nature Resort? This resort is exclusive to package bookings, which means there is no walk-in available. You must book through the tour company that manages this resort. The company is SI Tours where SI stands for Special Interest, and they are based in Sandakan City, Sabah. SI Tours offers various types of experience that cater to nature, wildlife and even birding packages suitable for anyone who wants premium services. My Thoughts to Staying at My Nature ResortPersonally, I love nature, trekking, wildlife watching and of course bird watching hence wherever I go, the accommodation is very important. Why you may ask? And the answer is simple - After a day of exploring the rainforest, trekking and doing the many other activities, I just want to go back to a place that is comfortable. Yes, there are many accommodations that may be on the budget side, but when you travel for many days, you want a place that is extremely comfortable and spacious. I personally do not like crowded resorts or those with a lot of rooms as at times, I just want peace and comfort, especially when I am up for breakfast or back for dinner. Well, that is just my humble opinion and My Nature Resort is one of these places that can cater to my requirements. If you are planning to visit Sepilok for the Borneo Bird Festival or any other activities, this is one of the options for your stay. I captured this Racket-tail Drongo from my chalet balcony.ConclusionThough this may be known as one of the higher-end resorts in Sepilok, the satisfaction of quality, comfort, and peace does pay off. So, if you are a single, couple or small group traveling to Sabah for a wonderful nature and wildlife experience, you can consider booking a package with SI Tours that offer their own accommodations. Overall, it is not every day that one will travel to Sabah for a nature experience, and most people will do this once and for numerous days. Finally, I hope this review of My Nature Resort in Sepilok comes in handy for your decision making. And if you have comments or questions, do ask below. 
    Tuesday 22nd of October 2019 01:10:00 PM
  • Galaxy Note 10 Plus Camera Review
    After testing the Samsung S10 Plus, I had the opportunity to do a Galaxy Note 10 Plus camera review here for the smartphone photography fans. Well, to be honest, over the last five years or so, I took a back seat from smartphone reviews to focus on other tourism destination reviews, and only in this year 2019, I became active again. You see, I have been a smartphone user ever since the first iPhone 1 was launched, and then switched to the Samsung Note 1 when it was also launched, hence I have the experience dating back to those days. Galaxy Note 10 Plus Camera ReviewA night mode photo of the Kuching Bridge, taken with the ultra-wide lens on the Galaxy Note 10 PlusWhile most people who review smartphones are from the current generation and only in the last five to seven years, I have been using and reviewing them since June of 2007. Since I have been traveling for the last 30 years, a smartphone has always been one of my camera choices dating back to 2007. So much has happened over the last 10 years in terms of technology that I now use my smartphone more frequently on my trips. This review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus camera was done in late September 2019, and I explored Kuching City in Sarawak to test out the ultra-wide and night-mode of the camera. You should also know that I am not one of those tech-crazy reviewers who do a technical analysis of the phone, the processors, and all of those non-layman terms. Foochow Kolo Beehoon in Kuching. The photo is taken with the food mode on the Galaxy Note 10.My style of reviews is simple, straight-forward and easy for general readers to understand. I guess not everyone wants to know how many cores the processor has or how much refresh rate the screen has.If you want to know more technical specifications of the phone, the main Samsung website or other common reviews will have them, and I am sure you have seen a ton of them online. So, if you are a common user like me, who just wants to know more about what kind of photography can be achieved from the Note 10 Plus, then continue reading.  Photos from the Galaxy Note 10 Plus CameraBelow is a series of photos from the Note 10 Plus taken during my trip to Kuching Sarawak from 27 to 30 September 2019. Please note that all the photos you see here are NOT EDITED at all, just resized and I added my watermark for photo theft prevention. They were taken hand-held and without any tripod as well. The photos are also resized to fit this article, and if you want to see them in a larger picture, head over to my Facebook post on Galaxy Note 10 Plus photos. The Kuching signage along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. Taken with ultra-wide mode. Sarawak DUN building in Kuching City. Ultra-wide on normal photo mode.Kuching Waterfront in the day, taken with ultra-wide on standard photo mode. The Darul Hana Bridge over the Sarawak River. Ultra-wide on standard photo mode. Sarawak River by the Kuching Waterfront. Taken in ultra-wide mode.The famous Kuching Cat Statue at Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. Ultra-wide shot. Kuching Jazz mural at the Majestic Hotel wall. Ultra-wide shot. Night Mode Photos from the Galaxy Note 10 PlusBelow are random photos taken using the night mode and also the ultra-wide lens on the Galaxy Note 10 Plus. Inside the Kuching Jazz Festival. Night mode and ultra-wide lens.Ning Baizura sings at the Kuching Jazz Festival 2019. Night mode shot. The White Baruk along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. Ultra-wide and night mode. Kuching Parliament Building and the Darul Hana Bridge. Night mode and ultra-wide. Kuching Waterfront photo from the Darul Hana Bridge. Ultra-wide on night mode. Movement shot along Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg. Night mode and ultra-wide. Cat Statue in Kuching City. Ultra-wide on night mode. The Kuching signage lit up at night. Ultra-wide on Night Mode. *Remember, all the photos above are unedited. I just resized them and added my watermark only. ConclusionWell, to be very honest, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus and the Galaxy S10 Plus are equally identical with not much difference in the camera functions. When the Note 10 Plus officially launched, they had three ultra-wide focal lengths, while the S10 Plus had only two.And after a major software update on October 2019 for the S10 Plus, both had similar functions for the camera. You can also read my camera review for the Galaxy S10 Plus, which also has unedited photos showing what that phone is capable of. Probably my favorite shot featuring the Darul Hana Bridge and Sarawak DUN Building. Ultra-wide on photo mode. Therefore, if you are going for casual use, I strongly recommend the Galaxy S10 Plus, and if you are using your phone for both business and leisure, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is the phone to get. For more information, visit the official Samsung website as they have everything you need to know about the phones and other products there. I hope you enjoyed my Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus camera review and if you have any comments or opinions, I would love to hear them below in the comment form. 
    Thursday 17th of October 2019 08:23:00 AM
  • What About Kuching 2019
    What About Kuching or #WAK2019 is a month-long festival that is purely dedicated to the lifestyle, arts and culture scene of Kuching in Sarawak. While Kuching is the capital of Sarawak, this laid-back city has been known to charm visitors due to the old-world splendor where modernization has not overtaken this part of Malaysia. However, the Kuching people or Kuchingites, have dedicated a unique festival spanning 30 days that are held throughout various locations in the city area. What About KuchingWAK 2019 is the festival to experience in October.Conceptualized back in 2017, the organizers have created possibly one of Kuching's most unique festivals that has the potential to be one of the top festivals to attend in Malaysia. Even the Sarawak Tourism Minister mentioned in a recent interview with the media that What About Kuching has the potential to grow into a top regional event similar to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. What is Happening at What About Kuching 2019?WAK 2019 has lined up a total of 56 collaborating groups with 99 different events and more than 315 daily events taking place over 30 days from Sept 28 to Oct 27.Depending on the day and time you are in Kuching, there will be something going on at selected venues in the city area. There are workshops, shows, exhibitions and many other interesting events taking place. The main events are also best experienced on weekends on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Therefore if you are visiting on a particular weekend, do check out the event list for WAK2019. You can also see the full list of events and activities at the What About Kuching 2019 Calander. One of the interesting workshops at WAK2019 is the Tuak Brewing Workshop.Who Should Visit What About Kuching?Generally anyone and everyone. This includes locals and also visitors to Malaysia, especially anyone who is visiting Kuching from September 20 to October 27, 2019. When you are here, look for the brochures on WAK2019 which are available around Kuching city. Kuching International Airport is also one of the places where you can pick them up when you arrive.Alternternatively, you can also search Google for 'What About Kuching' and get the calendar of events from the main website. When and Where is What About Kuching (WAK)? Date: Sept 28 to Oct 27 (30 Days)Where: All over Kuching cityWebsite: What About KuchingRamsay Ong is one of the renown artists from Kuching, Sarawak.How to Travel to Kuching? There are various flights from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Kota Kinabalu and other cities around Malaysia and Southeast Asia that fly directly into Kuching, Sarawak. Once here, visitors can easily walk around the city area or if you are ambitious enough, rent a car to move around. Ride-hailing or e-hailing services are available in Kuching as well. At one of the DJ sessions in KuchingConclusionPersonally, I feel that Kuching is still one of the best cities to visit in Malaysia, and over the last 10 years, I have been visiting here for many events and activities. In the last decade alone, I have seen how moderately Kuching has grown, and they are in no rush to keep up with other fast-growing cities in Malaysia.This is something that I find very fascinating, that a city taking its time to mature without affecting the people, the culture and the overall charm of the place. Therefore, if you have been planning or have plans to visit Kuching in October, do make it a point to catch some of the events or activities taking place for What About Kuching 2019. 
    Wednesday 9th of October 2019 10:25:00 AM
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Camera Review
    After using the phone for two months, I have finally come out with my Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus camera review based on various conditions and settings on the camera. You see, I do not rush to get a phone, and review it overnight just to be the first few to do it, and if you know me, I love to use a product for a decent time before reviewing it officially. Review of the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus CameraAn ultra-wide shot taken at Kuala Baram Wetlands in Miri, SarawakWhile most people rush to review new smartphones, I just wonder how they base their reviews on. The most common way would be by taking photos and comparing them with other smartphones?Anyway, I got my Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus in June of 2019, and have been testing the smartphone in various conditions all around Malaysia. Why I do this is because I travel a lot for my work and I always lug my heavy DSLR camera with me. Before owning the S10 Plus, I once did get a review unit in early April to test it for a couple of weeks.However, that did not work well for me, because it was a rush, and I had to return the unit back, so I was pretty limited to what I could do. Apart from the usual screen resolution, speed, materials, ram, battery life and so on, you have most probably read them all on other reviews, which are mostly copied and pasted or re-written. So, let me give you my honest camera review of the Galaxy S10 Plus below. And you should also know that the photos posted in this article are all non-edited and straight from the phone.The many modes that are available on the Galaxy S10 Plus.Galaxy Note 10 Plus Camera ModesOne thing I love about the new camera system on the Galaxy S10 Plus is the triple-camera mode it offers. All I can say is that this is what I was waiting for all my life, well sort of. In technical jargon, the Galaxy S10 Plus is a triple-lens camera that comes with;A standard 12-megapixel lens with a variable f/1.5 to f/2.4 aperture12-megapixel telephoto lens with an f/2.4 aperture16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens with an f/2.2 apertureThe triple camera system on the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus. Photo from Samsung Malaysia. So, what does that mean for the common layman? More confusion I assume, but not to worry as I will do my best to break it down in layman terms. Forget about the f/this and f/that as it is more for those professional wannabes. All you need to know is that when you launch the camera mode, you will see a bunch of icons and words.I must stress here, all the photos posted here are not edited at all, only to put in the watermark and resized for publication.Also, before you start using the camera, please go to the 'Camera Settings' on the phone and enable your 'Screen Optimizer'. This will differentiate many objects like buildings, people and pets.Red Durians (Durian Isu) from Miri, Sarawak. The photo was taken with the standard photo mode.Standard Photo Mode on Galaxy S10 PlusSimple photographers will go straight for the standard "Photo" mode, which is your easiest way to take photos.Once in that mode, you have three options to choose from in terms of zoom. That is the easiest option for anyone who does not want complications.It is also a very straight forward and simple to use mode, as in point and click the button. That is all, and this will be the most popular mode for many users.Kolo Mee with homemade noodles from Pujut in Miri. Food mood used for this photo. Food Photo Mode on Galaxy S10 PlusThis one was made purely for the foodies, or in general everyone who just loves to take food photos. However please note it works great with food in the photos and not your empty plates. The food mode opens with an adjustable bokeh ring in the middle of the screen. You can pinch it wide or small to give it a blurred effect on the outside. Bokeh is a known photographer's term.The cropping for the bokeh mode will go away if you wait a little longer, and then you can just take a full photo without the blurring.The very unique Marudi Fried Kuey Teow in Miri, Sarawak. The photo was taken using the food mode. So, when you get into this mode, you can either use it or not. By pinching it as wide and waiting, the blurring effect goes away automatically, unless you touch the area you want to photograph. The food mode also cleverly adjusts colors to make them look more appetizing on your screen. This is part of the built-in A.I that recognizes food photos.Another function in Food Mode is the Palette, which controls the color and temperature of the photo before taking it.Ultra-wide photo taken at the Summit Cafe in Miri, serving authentic Orang Ulu food in Sarawak.For me, at first, I kind of found it interesting, but honestly, I find a nice sharp and clear photo that will show the food much better. Anyway, it's very subjective, so use it to how you like. I find the food mode great for those who indulge in food photography or just want to post it on Instagram. But know that in low-light conditions, you may have to play around with this food mode.The food mode is also very interesting, especially when the function tends to give you a rich tone for food photography. Other settings do not give you this.If you are extra creative, you can also use the 'Food Mode' to photograph other items like insects, flowers or small items that turn out pretty impressive.Ultra-wide photo taken at the Damai Beach Resort in Santubong, Sarawak.Instagram Photo Mode on Galaxy S10 PlusEveryone's favorite mode except me. Really, I started in the early days of Instagram when it was much nicer and eventually got a little tired of this platform as it became worse over the years. But not to fear as the Galaxy S10 Plus Instagram mode is an easy way out for Instagrammers or would-be influencers, closet influencers and so on. The 'Instagram Mode' comes built with perfect cropping to fit Instagram, so you need not have to edit your photos after taking them. Just snap and upload to Instagram, that's all. If you ask me, this is just a short-cut for those who hate editing and resizing photos to fit into your Instagram specific crop.Damai Beach in Sarawak, taken with the Panorama mode on the phone. Panorama Photo Mode on Galaxy S10 PlusUse only when you see a nice landscape, meaning when the angle is really wide, you can then get into this mode and capture the entire scene from left to right.The trick is to use this mode when the light is great, especially in the morning or afternoons. The natural light helps to beautify the photo.Also, when you are panning from left to right or the other way, be sure to go slow and keep the line straight when panning.And, you can also take panoramic photos horizontally! So, either way, this works any way you like your photo to turn out.The amazing turn out on the night mode of the phone. Night Photo Mode on Galaxy S10 PlusThis is currently my favorite function on the Galaxy S10 Plus camera as I never thought I would see the day I would be able to shoot at night without problems.Since testing the phone and exploring many different night scenes, I find that areas with a lot of light tend to turn out even more beautiful.A small trick I learned is when you take the photo, put down the contrast and the photo looks even better when there are a lot of lights.You also need to hold the phone steady for a good five or six seconds when taking a photo using the night mode.The Miri Waterfront, photo taken at around 9.00 PM with night mode.The Curve and eCurve shopping mall in Mutiara Damansara, photo taken around 8.00 PM with night mode.Pro Photo Mode on Galaxy S10 PlusHonestly, I am still testing this function, and if you are a general user like most people, I would recommend you use the other functions. This requires a little photography knowledge to operate.Settings include almost everything that is found in modern-day DSLR cameras, with aperture, shutter speed, white balance and so on.To properly use this mode, you need to understand how a camera functions, otherwise, it will be all confusing and frustrating. Live Focus Photo Mode on Galaxy S10 PlusAnother function that I am also still testing to see how it turns out. To be honest, this is still something new to me, so let me explore this and update it here later.It states that this function plays around with the depth of field, providing some pretty amazing shots, namely selfies. So as I am not a selfie-person, I doubt I will be doing any of that here.But I believe I will find some other way to explore this function so stay tuned.The Tusan Horse Rock at Tusan Beach in Miri, Sarawak. Taken with the ultra-wide mode during sunset. Landscape Photos with the Samsung Galaxy S10 PlusBelow are some other random landscape photos that were taken around Sarawak using the normal and ultra-wide modes on the camera.Again, I want to stress that all the photos here are taken with the Galaxy S10 Plus, and they are not edited at all. I just put a watermark and resized them to fit here.So what you see is the true colors of the camera here.The Hornbill Monument at Damai Central in Santubong, Sarawak during sunset. Ultra-wide mode. Mount Santubong view from a floating fish farm along the Santubong River. Ultra-wide mode. Sunset at Damai Beach in Sarawak. Using ultra-wide mode only. Using the Ultra-Wide mode to capture the full moment in Miri, Sarawak. A sunset photo at Coco Cabana in Miri, using the ultra-wide modeThe Seahorse statue at the Miri Waterfront by the Pullman Miri Hotel. Taken using night-mode at 6am. The Sunday 'Tamu' or open market in Miri City, Sarawak. Ultra-wide used here. The departure hall at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) using Ultra-wide mode. Conclusion Overall, there have been many different opinions and reviews about the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus by many people and you should pay attention to who is reviewing them.There are many tech bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, online portals and even photographers that have given their own opinions.For the general user out there, I would suggest you take all the reviews with a pinch of salt, as each one has a different expectation and review.I have also done a camera review for the Galaxy Note 10 Plus in October 2019 if you want to see any comparison between the two models.For me, I have been traveling and photographing for the last 30 years, and ever since the first iPhone 1 was launched, I was already using that from day one.Over the years, I have seen how the smartphone and its camera has evolved tremendously, namely with so many technological advancements, it has become a staple tool for humans.I trust that this review of the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus camera will provide you with a non-biased opinion and see it from a travel photographer's point of view. 
    Thursday 26th of September 2019 11:52:00 AM
  • Sipadan Air - All You Need To Know
    The all-new Sipadan Air from Sabah will start operations from Semporna to Kota Kinabalu and it has been slated to begin in September of 2019. Sipadan Air is also privately owned by Equus Air Sdn. Bhd that is based in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. They are new players in the Sabah aviation industry which aims to develop aviation tourism in Sabah. Sipadan Air Kota Kinabalu to Semporna FlightsThis special charter flights from KK to Semporna will operate on two Twin Otter DHC-6 aircraft, which will comfortably seat 12 to 15 passengers, though the aircraft can carry up to 19 passengers. The reason for this is the weight factor for the Twin Otter aircraft, where luggage and passengers are weighed to balance the aircraft. Since the news of the new airline in Sabah was announced in September, the company has indicated that the two inaugural flights have been fully booked with 30 Chinese tourists. Sipadan Air has also mentioned that the charter flights have been fully booked till the end of this year too. This news of the Sabah new airline was also covered by the Daily Express which is Sabah's popular English news portal. The main landing page for Sipadan Air, which is under Equus Air. Why the Name Sipadan Air? This can be a little confusing for visitors, where the first thought is that the airline will fly directly to Sipadan Island. But in actual fact, it is just a name given to the charter airline. There could have been any other name, but the company decided on Sipadan Air to reflect the world-renown name of Sipadan Island. Another reason could be that many China tourists and other tourists have Sipadan Island on their wishlist or bucket list as one of the places to visit in the world. The main website is called Equus Air and is currently not operational at the time of writing this article, but I believe it should be ready in the next few days or weeks. Sipadan Island is seen from my dive boat during one of my many trips there. Will Sipadan Air fly directly to Sipadan Island?We all wish for that, but sorry no. The Sipadan Air will only be operating flight from Kota Kinabalu to Semporna town, which is the gateway to Sipadan and Mabul island. Many people who have not been here may think that Sipadan is a large island with resorts and even an airport, but truth be told, it is a small island that only has a military outpost. The name sounds catchy but does not reflect the airline flying into the island like other islands around Malaysia. For example, Tioman and Pangkor Island have their own little airport and runway. But Mabul, Sipadan and other islands around the Tun Sakaran Marin Park are very small with no airport space. Sipadan Air is owned by Equus AirWho is Sipadan Air? Sipadan Air is a privately owned airline by Equus Air Sdn. Bhd, a local Sabahan company that is based in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Malaysia. The Chairman of Sipadan Air is Datuk Omar Ali Tun Sakaran, who is the son of Tun Sakaran Mohd Hashim bin Dandai, who served as the eighth Chief Minister and Governor of Sabah.Equus Air?s chief operating officer is also Capt. Adam Abdullah. The airline also owns two 19-seat de Havilland Canada Series 300 Twin Otters which will be used for the inaugural phase. The airline also has a tagline that goes like this - "From Islands to Highlands", which is all targeted towards tourist destinations around Sabah Borneo. The S-38 Sikorsky Seaplane which is a popular amphibious aircraft.From what I gather, the company Equus Air is also planning to introduce Sea Planes to Sabah. This will possibly be in the near future. The company has also sent one of its pilots to the Maldives to do some pilot training, and in the Maldives, seaplanes are the main mode of transport from island to island. Another piece of interesting news is that the company will be interested in introducing amphibious aircraft in Sabah. Equus Air is currently preparing an amphibian flight module for the Department of Civil Aviation for approval to operate. Semporna Airport, a STOL airport located just 12 minutes from the main town area.Where does Sipadan Air fly to? Currently, for phase one, Sipadan Air will operate from Kota Kinabalu to Semporna and vice-versa. There are plans to expand to other tourist destinations around Sabah. For future routes, the airline has plans to operate Kota Kinabalu to Ranau flights, where driving will take you around two and a half hours, but the flight will take you only 20 minutes. There is also the Kota Kinabalu to Kudat flights, and driving up north will take you around three to three and a half hours one way. A flight will probably take you only 30 minutes. Sipadan Air Phase 2 Phase two of the airline will see the introduction of the Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft, which will most likely be the Sikorsky 38 or 39 models. These seaplanes are dual-purpose and can land in water and also on land, which will make this perfect for many island resorts located around Sabah. The second phase for Sipadan Air is targeting flights and also special charters for;Kota Kinabalu to resortTawau to resortSemporna to resortIsland hopping flightScenic flightSunset dinner flightSunset round island tourSeaplanes will also be used for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, marriage, proposals, graduation or even career promotions. This introduction will, of course, bring in new tourism opportunities in Sabah, and help to increase tourism arrivals into Sabah and the hard to get to places. The Twin Otter DHC-6 aircraft that Sipadan Air will use.How to Book Sipadan Air Flights? Currently, the airline is only doing charter flights, and they have arrangements with selected travel agents in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. In the future, the airline may open up to the mainstream tourist for direct booking, but for now, there has not been any news about this. The route by road from Tawau to SempornaWhat other ways to get to Sipadan Island? Currently, the only way to get to Sipadan Island or Semporna is via flights into Tawau City from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, and other major cities. Airlines like Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia have daily direct flights to Tawau, and from there, you need to take a taxi to Semporna which will take one hour and forty-five minutes. Most visitors will use this way to get to Sipadan Island or any other island around the Tun Sakaran Marine Park. The distance from Semporna Airport to the main public jetty in Semporna town.Where is the Semporna Airport located at? The Semporna Airport is a STOL Airport or short take-off and landing airport, which can only cater to small turbo-prob aircraft like the Twin Otter and even the ATR planes. The airport is located along Jalan Lapangan Terbang in the Mile 2 area or Batu 2 of the Semporna main road called SA51. Another landmark is the Sabah Electricity main office in Semporna. The airport was last used by the Rural Air Service by Malaysia Airlines with flights connecting to Sandakan and other towns around Sabah. The last commercial flights were in 2012. In recent years, the airport runway was used by Borneo Paramotor for leisure activities including classes to fly a paramotor. What the Semporna Airport looks like in this photo taken on May 2019.Cause for ConcernsDid you know that tourism numbers into Semporna and the surrounding islands have been estimated between 60,000 to 80,000 visitors a month? While this is great news for Sabah Tourism, there are many who feel that the overtourism in this part of Sabah needs to be controlled. However, this is a double-edged sword that needs to be looked into carefully by the tourism board and also the tourism industry.ConclusionWith the announcement of Sipadan Air flying from Kota Kinabalu to Semporna, this will cut travel time by a lot for tourists wanting to visit the world-famous Sipadan Island and Mabul Island. If you are planning to head to this part of Sabah Borneo, you may also want to know what to do in Mabul Island when you are here. As stated earlier in this article, the flights are only available for charter flights through some of the tour agents in Sabah. Hopefully, Sipadan Air will expand into a commercial budget airline in Sabah. 
    Tuesday 17th of September 2019 10:30:00 AM
  • Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus Launch in Malaysia
    The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus Launch in Malaysia were done at the St.Regis Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on the 15th of August 2019. It was also launched one week after the global launch in New York on the 7th of August. The Malaysian Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus smartphone launch was also officiated by no other than the Samsung Malaysia President Mr.Yoonsoon Kim or YS Kim. Malaysia Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus LaunchThe Malaysia Note 10 launch event which was held at the St.Regis Hotel in KLThe event was attended by invited trade partners, Samsung Members, Samsung influencers, special guests and media members which included the Malaysian lifestyle, tech, and travel bloggers and influencers.  At the beginning of the event just after the opening video, Mr.YS Kim made his welcome speech by introducing how far Samsung Electronic had gone over the years in terms of innovation. Mr.YS Kim, the President of Samsung Malaysia officiates the launchHe talked about the endless possibilities that the Note 10 and 10+ had while going through various key elements that the latest smartphone was offering to today's lifestyle and business consumer. The Samsung Malaysia president quoted "For the first time ever Samsung is introducing not one, but two Note devices. These come with four revolutionary innovations in terms of design, creativity, productivity, and performance". Mr.YS Kim holds both the Note 10 and 10+ for the audience.Mr.YS Kim ended his keynote speech with the unveiling of both the Samsung Galaxy Note S10 and 10+ which were held in both his hands. This was followed by the main photo opportunity for the media where the Samsung Malaysia President posed with both phones. Mr.YS Kim talks about the S-Pen, which is one of the main features of the Note 10 and 10 Plus.Next, the key people were invited on stage for another photo opportunity which included KM Liew, Head of IT and Mobile Business Malaysia, and Yoo Jin Hyun, Business Director of IT and Mobile Business Malaysia. Samsung Partners was next to be called on the stage for another final photo opportunity for the Malaysia Galaxy Note 10 and 10+ launch event. Galaxy Note 10 and 10+ Pre-Order Sold Out in MalaysiaThe MC's for the night joined Mr.YS Kim on stage to make the stunning announcement that the pre-orders for the all-new Galaxy Note 10 and 10+ were completely sold out as of lunchtime on the 15th of August. To everyone's surprise, the pre-orders just opened on the 8th of August in Malaysia, in a week, it was completely sold out. However, there were no official numbers on how many units were available. Mr.YS Kim thanked the Samsung fans of Malaysia for this remarkable feat, and also noted that if you have missed the pre-order, you can follow up with the participating partners when the news is official. Galaxy Note 10 and 10+ Launch Event in Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaThe MC's and guests discuss the Note 10 and 10+ features on stage.The launch event continued with both MC's taking lead in talking about the Note 10 and 10+ and its core features.Next, a couple of local Malaysians were invited onstage to share their personal experiences in using the smartphone weeks before the launch. A live demonstration was also conducted onstage for the AR Doodle, which is one of the highlights for those who are active on social media. However, the key highlight for the Galaxy Note series has always been the S-Pen, where this time around, the S-Pen has broken boundaries with its technology. The testing area for Note 10 and 10+ for the media.Members of the media having a hands-on experience with the Note 10 and 10 Plus.The stage event ended with an invitation for members of the media to have a hands-on experience with the actual Galaxy Note 10 and 10+ models. This was held outside the main ballroom of the St.Regis, where specially dedicated stations were set up with the smartphone units, and specially trained staff to explain details. Samsung Members, Partners, and specially invited guests were ushered up to level six of the hotel which is the Crystal Bar at the St.Regis. This was an open-aired pool area with a lounge and bar. Part of the fireworks displays at St.Regis KL after the Note 10 Launch in Malaysia.At the Crystal Bar, guests were treated to drinks and Hors d'oeuvres while display sets of the Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus were also available to be tested. The finale for the Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus launch in Malaysia was concluded with a spectacular fireworks show. Guests at the Crystal Bar had the best view, and fireworks came in pale yellow and blue colors, which was a nice touch considering that the Samsung color is blue. Malaysia Note 10 and 10 Plus ReviewsThe actual Note 10 and 10 Plus smartphones at the launch event in Malaysia.Well, I am quite sure that you may have read all the raving reviews for the new Note 10 and 10 Plus, and for me to put in all the specifications and features would be another overkill. I also did a speculation article about Note 10 and 10 Plus in Malaysia at the end of July, which was a few weeks before it was officially launched in the USA. Actually, I will not do any Note 10 reviews until I personally try it myself, as I often travel, I would love to see how the Note 10 works for my travels. For the specifications of the Note 10 and 10 Plus, I recommend you visit the Samsung Malaysia official website to see them. Everything you need to know is there. The back of both smartphones.How Much Is The Note 10 and 10+ in Malaysia? The Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ models with 256GB memory are priced at RM3,699 and RM4,199 respectively, while the higher capacity Note 10+ with 512GB is RM4,799.Both versions come in three interesting prismatic colors where the Note 10 comes in Aura Pink, Aura Black, and Aura Glow, while the Note 10+ comes in Aura White, Aura Black, and Aura Glow.Galaxy Note 10 on the left and the 10 Plus on the right.Where Can You Get The New Note 10 and 10+? For now, the Galaxy Note 10 was officially launched in Malaysia on the 15th of August, 2019, and soon, participating partners like the popular telecommunications companies in Malaysia will start selling them. They are not available at the Samsung retail outlets until it is officially announced. If you do see some being sold at third-party vendors, they are all AP units, where if anything goes wrong, Samsung Malaysia will not accept them as a warranty unit. For more accurate news and information about when the Note 10 and 10 Plus goes on sale, you should follow Samsung Malaysia on Facebook or visit the official Samsung Malaysia website. Thumbs up to Samsung Malaysia for putting such an amazing event for the Galaxy Note 10 launch.Final Thoughts on the Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus Launch in MalaysiaJust so you know, all the photos taken in this article are from my Samsung Galaxy S10+ smartphone. Ever since changing to the S10 Plus, I have found no reason to carry my bulky camera around. To be very honest, I find that the Note 10+ is absolutely amazing, especially with all the new features added. I currently use a Galaxy S10+ and it is quite similar to the Note 10+. If you have been pondering about switching your older smartphone to a new one, then I would easily recommend you consider changing to the Note 10 or 10+. The Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus Launch in Malaysia is just the beginning and you can expect more innovation and amazing smartphones from Samsung coming your way. 
    Friday 16th of August 2019 01:12:00 PM
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Speculations in Malaysia
    With the smartphone industry moving super-fast, there have been many interesting rumors about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 10 smartphone that will be launched on 8th August 2019. Why is everyone so excited about this you may ask, and over the last five years, smartphones have been getting a lot of attention from the mainstream and also the consumer market. Well, I guess it is about time that I put in my two cents about the upcoming Samsung Note 10 speculations since I am already using the Galaxy S10 Plus, I too have become curious about what will the Galaxy Note 10 offer.A Samsung Galaxy Note 1 and iPhone 3G which were both used by meFrom Apple to Samsung - A Short StoryBefore you read on, I just want to highlight that I have been a smartphone user since the launch of the Apple iPhone 1 back in the year 2007. The iPhone launched in the USA on June 29th of 2007, and I had my unit specially flown in on the 2nd of July 2007. Having said this, I can state that I have been a smartphone user ever since day one and that makes it a whopping 12 years for me. I remember back then when I first started using it, many people laughed at me, stating how big and inconvenient the smartphone was. Well, look at what happened and look at what you are using right now? So, I kept using Apple until iPhone 3G before making that massive switch over to Samsung Note 1 in October of 2011, and I never looked back.Photos of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Speculations for Malaysians Alright, enough with the history lesson and let us get on with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 speculations that have been driving the consumers all over the world crazy, including here in Malaysia. While speculations will remain speculations, there have been many tech writers coming out with all kinds of information and leaks, and we all know that these are only rumors that carry a 70-30 truth ratio.One factor is the size of the Galaxy Note 10 smartphones, where it is now said that the standard Note 10 will be similarly sized as the previous Note 9 at 6.3". But the Note 10+ will be much larger with a 6.8" inch screen.I am guessing that with not much of a price difference, many will opt for the Galaxy Note 10 Plus due to the many cool features being offered. The S-Pen of the all-new Samsung Galaxy Note 10Samsung Note 10 S-Pen Stylus - This is the most important part of the Galaxy Note smartphone where a lot of improvements have been done and I too am very curious about this. Apparently, they have enabled gesture control for the first time in the Note series history. The S-Pen allows the operation of the smartphone with gestures, without touching the screen surface, and that is pretty mind-blowing if you ask me. The new feature is also termed as "Air Actions" gestures. Seriously, I cannot wait to try this function. Note 10 Cameras - We can expect a triple-lens system for the new Galaxy Note series that comprises of a 12MP Dual Pixel, 16MP ultra-wide, 12MP telephoto, and Time-of-Flight or ToF sensors for the Note 10+. A 10MP Dual Pixel camera will sit inside the handset's centrally-aligned punch-hole cutout and the Smart ISO or AI-ISO is something that I am seriously looking forward to. The Galaxy Note 10 cameras also support three different physical aperture sizes which are f/1.5 to f/1.8 to f/2.4 to allow the best possible exposure of the photos taken with the device. As a photographer, I am pretty stoked about the aperture sizes. For landscape photography, there is a wide-angle sensor with 16 megapixels resolution with f/2.2 aperture, while another camera sensor in combination with a Teleoptik that provides for a double optical zoom. (Now I'm drooling about this)As for the low light conditions, it is also rumored that the Galaxy Note 10 will supersede the S10 series due to the all-new AI-ISO or Smart ISO features which the company trademarked. This is exciting news as it takes smartphone photography to another level.What this translates to is that the Smart ISO or AI-ISO on the Galaxy Note 10 will be perfect for its low-light or night photography. And this is what I really want to test. For video recording, an optical image stabilizer helps to allow shake-free recordings which come in HDR10 + and 4K videos with 60 FPS. This also features scene recognition and various special photo modes. Wow, I think I can write a dedicated article just on the camera and video for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.Other Core Specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus;Note 10 Screen Size - Expect a 6.3in FHD+ screen. Note 10+ Screen Size - We are expecting an amazing 6.8" inch (17.27 cm) Note 10 Resolution - Dynamic OLED display, Quad HD + (3040 x 1440 pixels), 498ppi, 16 million colors, HDR 10+, Gorilla Glass 6 and a blue filter.Note 10+ Processor - We are expecting either a Snapdragon 855+ or 7nm Exynos 9825 SoC, with a maximum clock speed of 2.7GHz, and comes teamed with 8GB or 12GB RAM, a 4,300mAh battery and a 256GB UFS 3.0 expandable storage. Note 10 Battery - 3,500mAh battery with 25W charging support. Note 10+ Battery - 4,300mAh battery with 45W fast charging / 20W wireless charging.Note 10 Smartphone Colors - While Samsung always plays it safe with the colors, we can expect the Note 10 to come in Black, Silver, and White. But there could be other colors. Micro SD Card Slot - This is only available for the Note 10+.Note 10 Size and Weight - 162.3 x 77.1 x 7.9 mm, 198 g.Note 10 Operating System - Android Pie with Samsung One UI.Note 10 Headphone Jack - Removed/Not availableThe camera system of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10How Many Models of Samsung Note 10 Will be Launched? Word out there states that there will be three models being launched which are the Note 10, Note 10 Lite, and Note 10 Plus, and those are currently just rumors. In Malaysia, we should expect just two models which are Note 10 and the Note 10 Plus, but then again, maybe Samsung could suddenly confirm all three models?  When is the Samsung Note 10 Launched in Malaysia? Officially from the Samsung Malaysia website, it is stated that the launch of Note 10 will be on the 8th of August, 2019 here in Malaysia.The worldwide launch for the Galaxy Note 10 will be held on the 7th of August in Brooklyn, New York USA, which many people are looking forward to.Samsung Malaysia website announcing the launch of the Galaxy Note 10.When will the Samsung Note 10 go on sale in Malaysia? The most important question in this article is when will the Note 10 be on sale for the general consumers, and there is also no official date on this. However, it is stated that the Note 10 will go on sale in South Korea on 23 August, which is 15 days after the official worldwide launch on 7 August.This means that we in Malaysia could see a similar sale date unless they decide on having another launch date for Malaysia and some other countries. What is the Price of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 in Malaysia? Right now, there is no official price announced, but judging from the history of the Galaxy Note series smartphonesIn Malaysia, we should be expecting the Galaxy Note 10 to be around RM4,000, and the Galaxy Note 10 Plus to be priced around RM5,000 to RM5,500. There are also rumored prices being shared on the internet and below are the Europe prices;Samsung Note 10 - ?999 or MRY4,580Samsung Note 10 Plus - ?1,149 or MRY5,268Where Can I Get More Information for the Samsung Note 10 in Malaysia? But the best place to get accurate information about the new smartphone will be from the official Samsung Malaysia website. This applies to those who want to know more about the local launch here in Malaysia.After the official launching, you can also visit the official Samsung retails outlets around Malaysia as they will most likely have the units on display.This is not confirmed but it could be a few days later after the launch, and again, you can get more information from the official website or Facebook Page for Samsung Malaysia. Samsung Malaysia's teaser for the launch of the Galaxy Note 10Final Thoughts On The Samsung Note 10 SpeculationsWith all of the speculations mentioned above, we are expecting the Galaxy Note 10 to offer a much larger battery, more powerful RAM, a larger screen display, a cool S-pen stylus, and an amazing camera system. For me, traveling with a good smartphone nowadays is one of the top criteria I look at, and since changing to the Samsung Galaxy S10+, I have found the smartphone incredibly amazing. Photos are one of the top things that most people will use on their smartphones, and even for me, when I take photos with my Galaxy S10 Plus, they turn out incredibly beautiful. Regardless if it is for food, general or landscape, the photos to be much more superior compared to my earlier smartphones.To be honest, I am patiently awaiting the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 in Malaysia, and possibly even getting to test it. With so much technological advancement in smartphones over the years, I am sure that this will be the smartphone that many will consider upgrading to. Apart from the upcoming launch of the Note 10 smartphone, I am also eagerly awaiting the news of the Samsung folding phone, which is also slated for a September launch worldwide. 
    Thursday 25th of July 2019 09:19:00 AM
  • MATTA Awards
    The inaugural MATTA Awards was held for the first time on 30th June 2019 and at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur Hotel in Malaysia. After decades of working with tour agents around Malaysia, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents or MATTA as it is known finally came up with an award series for the tourism industry players. The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents has been around for 44 years, and it is about high time to create something exciting for the industry players. MATTA AwardsThese special tourism awards were created as a way to recognize the achievements of its members and their contribution to the Malaysian tourism industry. The inaugural MATTA Awards were also praised highly by the Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik, who was a special guest at the event. Also present at the ceremony was YBhg. Datuk Musa Bin Yusof, Director General of Tourism Malaysia, and a total of 500 local and international tourism industry players. In total, 50 nominations were submitted for the MATTA Awards 2019, and out of that, only 13 category winners were selected. The winners of the MATTA Awards 2019. Click to enlarge.Winners of MATTA Awards 2019Below is a list of the people and companies who won the inaugural MATTA Awards this year;Best Tour Operator - Inbound: Asian Overland Services Tour and Travel Sdn Bhd Best Tour Operator - Outbound: Apple Vacations and Conventions  Best Tour Operator - Responsible Tourism: Borneo Eco Tours Sdn BhdBest Travel Agency - Cruise: Hwajing Travel and ToursBest Travel Agency - Startup: Toranj Tour and Travel Sdn BhdBest Travel Agency - Umrah and Hajj: Andalusia Travel and Tours Sdn BhdMost Creative Marketing Campaign: Ice Holidays Sdn BhdMost Creative Tour Packages: Naam World Travel and Tours Sdn BhdMATTA Tourism Icon Award: Datuk Seri Tunku Iskandar Tunku AbdullahDatuk Seri Tunku Iskandar Tunku Abdullah with the MATTA Tourism Icon AwardHow Are The MATTA Awards Selected? According to the organizers, the nominees are suggested by the MATTA Committee themselves and then voted as the winners. Only members of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents are eligible to participate in these awards. Nomination forms were made available to MATTA members by downloading them from the awards website. From there, the nominations could be done for a company or person, or for themselves. The winners are then selected by an independent panel of judges based on a strong operational knowledge of the industry and also with years of experience in the tourism industry.Possibly in the future, there would be another system to select and determine who the nominees will be, and also how the judging process will work. I believe it would be much better to have both the public and also the tourism industry players to have their votes for selecting the winners. The MATTA Awards Trophy and CertificationWho Came Out With The MATTA Awards Idea? The concept of these awards was actually brought forward by MATTA President Datuk Tank Kok Liang. One of the other reasons the awards were held was also to recognize the resilience of travel and tour operators in the country, especially in the face of disruptive technology. MATTA President Datuk Tank Kok Liang had this to say during an interview with a local newspaper;?The Awards were meant to recognize the achievements of MATTA members and their contributions to the Malaysian tourism industry. It was also meant to encourage more travel and tour operators in the country to be more innovative, especially in the face of disruptive technology.? ?For the past few years, there have been many opinions about whether tour and travel operators will go bust, but they have only been going stronger. One factor behind their staying power was being innovative by embracing technology.?Naam World Travel and Tours with the Most Creative Tour Package Award.Original MATTA Award CategoriesAccording to the MATTA Awards website, there was a list of 13 categories that were selected by the organizing committee and they were;Best Tour Operator (Inbound)Best Tour Operator (Outbound)Best Tour Operator (Domestic)Best Tour Operator (Responsible Tourism)Best Tour Operator (MICE)Best Tour Operator (Land Transportation)Best Travel Agency (Start Up)Best Travel Agency (Umrah & Hajj)Best Travel Agency (Cruise)Best Travel Agency (Air Transportation)Most Creative Tour PackageMost Creative Marketing CampaignMATTA Tourism Icon AwardOut of the 13 categories, only nine were presented during the MATTA Awards 2019.MATTA Awards Gala DinnerAs with most award ceremonies and presentations, there will always be a gala dinner included, and attendees will be required to dress formally for the awards. For the inaugural tourism awards by MATTA, the gala dinner was held at the Hilton Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on the 30th of June 2019 and from 7.30 PM to 10.30 PM. Tables were made available for members and non-members to purchase in individual seats or by entire tables. The gala dinner table pricing was;MATTA Members Tier 1 = RM 3,000.00 (per table/10 pax)Tier 1 = RM 300.00 (per seat)Tier 2 = RM 2,500.00 (per table/10 pax)Tier 2 = RM 250.00 (per seat)Non MembersTier 1 = RM 3,500.00 (per table/10 pax)Tier 1 = RM 350.00 (per seat)Tier 2 = RM 3,000.00 (per table/10 pax)Tier 2 = RM 300.00 (per seat)Who are the Sponsors of the MATTA Awards?There were different categories of sponsors for the MATTA Awards which ranged from platinum, gold, and silver. Below are the sponsors for this year's awards;Platinum SponsorsMalaysia AirlinesHong Leong BankBoostGold SponsorsApple HolidaysICE HolidaysInnogenSunway Putra MallUOBSilver SponsorsChina Mobile/CMI TravelEffortless Beauty MalaysiaSarawak Tourism BoardPetronasThe event was also supported by;Backstage SkillsiAdventure EscapeSunway Putra Hotel Kuala LumpurFor more information on these tourism awards, you can visit the official MATTA Awards website as there is contact information available there. Albert Chin holding the Best Tour Operator award for Responsible Tourism.When is the Next MATTA Awards? With the success of the inaugural awards, the next one will possibly be held at the same time which is around mid-year. The MATTA Awards 2020 would also possibly see more nominations for all 13 categories. Again, to be nominated in the next MATTA Awards 2020, the tour company needs to be a member of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents. Suggestions And OpinionsPersonally, I think this is a great move by MATTA for the tourism industry players and a very positive one. But for the future awards, I would also consider adding in categories for the smaller tour agents. While the large agents always seem to be at the forefront, let us not forget about the smaller tour agents and companies. They too are bringing in tourists into Malaysia, and also contribute to our tourism economy. I would also love to see a category for Best Tour Guide in various sub-categories like city guides, historical guides and also nature guides. With everyone talking about the digital revolution and digital media, there should also be a special segment for those who utilize social media platforms to promote. Under the digital tourism category, there could be sub-categories like best social media promotions, best online tourism articles, the best website and so on. Final Thoughts on the MATTA AwardsOverall, awards are always welcomed by all industries, no matter tourism or non-tourism, and it is these kinds of things that help drive the industry forward. As I have been writing about tourism in Malaysia for the last 10 years, I too hope that the MATTA Awards will consider adding a category for online tourism articles by others as one of the categories. At least this way, I know that it would attract more people to write about tourism articles and promotions in Malaysia and also out of Malaysia. 
    Friday 5th of July 2019 12:10:00 PM
  • Narita Airport vs KLIA2 Review - Part 2
    This is a continuation of my Narita Airport vs KLIA2 review, where the first part was published in May 2019. And I have also done a comparison article review of KLIA2 vs Bangkok Don Mueang as well. My mission in doing these airport reviews is to help raise awareness about the state of our airport services, which many travelers are taking for granted. And by doing so, I hope to provide constructive feedback to the relevant parties - without bias and prejudice. Narita AirportNarita Airport Terminal 2, simple and functionable.Narita Airport is the main international airport for Japan, and if you are flying in from around the world into Japan, this would probably be the airport that you will arrive in Tokyo.  Once known as New Tokyo International Airport, it was renamed as Narita International Airport to avoid confusion with Haneda International Airport which is also known as the Tokyo airport. If you did not already know, Tokyo Haneda was voted at No 2, was just behind Changi International which won the world?s best airport from Skytrax 2019. View the World?s Top 100 Airports of 2019. While both airports are not the same in terms of aircraft handling ie Narita being a full-service carrier airport while KLIA2 is an LCCT, you may be surprised to know that Narita does, in fact, open up slots for long haul budget airlines at its Terminal 3. As was reported in Part 1 of my article, Narita T3 was ranked World?s No 2 Best LCCT, which many do not know about.  The walkway to Terminal 2 and 3 of Narita Airport.Narita Airport Operating HoursNarita Airport operates from 6.00 AM till 11.00 PM, with a special allowance of one hour for landing after 11.00 PM for delays and bad weather. I am sure you are surprised as I am because it is an international airport, I had assumed it would operate 24 hours for flights landing from all over the world. The main reason for banning flights from 11.00 PM to 6.00 AM is due to the noise concerns of aircraft flying in and out around the town of Narita. Considerations have been made numerous times, as the countries international airport should be running 24 hours a day. The wide check-in counter area of Terminal 2. Narita Airport Passenger Flow Convenience Built just like any other airport, the passenger flow is just perfect, and easy to navigate, even if it is your first time there. From the time you arrive via train, bus or taxi, the main entrance to the check-in counters are very near. For train arrivals to T2 of Narita, you will need to make your way up to level three, where the main departure hall is located, and there are clear and precise signs directing you all the way up. Signages are one of the most important things at airports.Honestly, I could not ask for easier directions as there was no need to look lost and confused here. This is something that the Japanese are very particular about - directions, and they are seen at eye-level anywhere you are in the terminal. Once you have checked in at the counter in Narita, your next move would be to do some last minute shopping. After you are done eating and shopping, simply head back down and you will arrive at the main international departure entrance. It?s simple math, where you check in, explore, indulge and go for your flight. Checking in at the Narita Airport.Checking-in At Narita AirportWhenever I check in at airports out of Kuala Lumpur, I always find the counter staff very helpful and always with a smile, and most importantly, professional in what they do. Well, on the many times I have flown AirAsia, the counter staff is some of the best around when it comes to checking in. I have heard of complaints but for me so far so good.Over in Narita, nothing was compromised, as their professional customer service ethics paid in full, where I could not fault them in any way. Shopping at Muji to Go at Narita Airport.Throughout my checking in, the counter staff maintained a pleasant face throughout, and even doing the traditional Japanese bowing after handing me my boarding pass. I guess this is something that will always impress me - the immaculate Japanese hospitality that has been around forever. I often wonder why this kind of hospitality cannot be emulated by other countries, namely in my own country airports. Narita Airport Mall at Terminal 2Shopping at the Airport Mall in NaritaWhen you stand in the middle of terminal two, at the main information counter, you are able to see everything in one glance, which is very convenient for foreign travelers. And for me, I saw that the shopping and dining were located on the upper level (Level 4) of the airport. This made it super easy for me to go up, explore, shop, and have a meal, before heading back down to the departure gates. The simple and easy shopping area at terminal two.On the selection of shops here, I found it kind of interesting, probably due to a simplified layout, and also a special section where it was dedicated to purely Japanese arts and craft, which is something that appeals to most tourists before leaving Japan.The concept of having smaller stores or kiosks meant that they only needed minimal manpower to manage and operate. Unlike KLIA2, there are many larger stores where two or more staff are seen employed. And when things are quiet, staff being staff, tend to talk to each other out of boredom, creating a very laid back and unprofessional image. How can one go wrong at any Japanese 7-11 store?For dining or quick meals at Narita Airport, the concept of having fast food, convenient store and a proper restaurant in one area makes total sense. This means that if you have time, you can simply go straight to the restaurant for a solid sit down meal. And if you are on the go, you can either get some fast food or visit the convenient store to grab some bites and drinks. I never did really look deeper at the food and beverage layout, but seeing how the Japanese simplify it, made total sense. However, at KLIA2, it is convenient, with just too many choices. And the problem is that because there are too many, they are spaced out everywhere. This means at the main departures terminal, you have about ten restaurants and cafes there. An example of a practical pharmacy at Narita Airport. And over at KL Gateway Mall, there are another 20 or so restaurants, cafes and fast food spread all over the mall. This kind of makes it difficult and quite a waste of time to walk around. If you look at the logistics of this, it actually doesn?t contribute much to the food and beverage retailers inside the airport boarding areas. Why? Because passengers have spent time walking around the mall, leaving only just enough time to rush to the boarding gate. Not only that, the fact that some of the gates are located so far away, passengers will not have time to browse around the duty-free areas, leaving these shops with less business. Honestly, how many times have you experienced rushing to your gate, only to bypass all the stores along the way? The shops along the boarding gate area of Narita.Boarding Gate Areas at Narita AirportOne more thing I love about international airports is the journey to the boarding gates area, and this is where you can spend all your last remaining foreign currencies. This means that most airports that I have visited, tend to have a nice and wide boarding area walkway.The journey to the boarding gates is a breeze as you just need to follow the large numbered signs, which are all conveniently placed. Every corner you take, you will surely see signages that point you in the right direction. The duty-free shops along the way to your boarding gate.At the start, you will enter the duty-free zone, where stores line both sides of the walkways, which I found not too wide, and just nice for two-way traffic flow. Travolators or moving walkways are conveniently placed all the way to the end of the gates and are not too long. The stores seem to be found all the way to the gates, making the walk not tiring as the human eye would be glancing to see if there is something of interest along the walk. Along my journey to the boarding gate, I found all kinds of shops from souvenirs to apparel, and cafes to coffee shops, which are, of course, all high quality. One of the attractive duty-free shops on route to the boarding area.They usually don?t cost an arm and a leg, hence the concept of this was for the passenger convenience to quickly shop and move along. Sadly at KLIA2 in Malaysia, they tried to adapt this concept, but the overall boarding gate area was built just too narrow. Meaning, when you get further, there are no more shops, as they are all concentrated at the beginning of the gate areas, with really low-quality stores, which I think makes the airport look really bad. Again, over at KLIA2, if you have already walked around the KL Gateway Mall, you would have limited time to explore inside the duty-free area. The only thing on your mind is to reach the boarding gate area, so you will not miss your flight. This is a common occurrence among many travelers at KLIA2. Just take a look at the KLIA2 walkways. It feels very empty and cold. Final thoughts to Part 2 of my Narita Airport vs KLIA2 Review As mentioned earlier in this article, what I write here is my own views based on experience over the years of flying in and out of KLIA2. They are without bias and prejudice, and hopefully will be noticed by the respective authorities.If you are interested in airports and aviation, I have also done many other airport articles and reviews from around Malaysia and also all over Asia.  In the next and final part of this series, I will discuss in detail about Narita T3, which has been rated the World?s 2nd Best LCCT by Skytrax. If you have any comments or feedback, I would love to hear them below. 
    Thursday 6th of June 2019 03:42:00 AM
  • Pangkor Island Airport To Reopen
    The Pulau Pangkor Island Airport is to reopen this 1st October 2019 and this comes as a positive move towards tourism on this island off the west coast of Perak, Malaysia. This airport is also called Lapangan Terbang Pulau Pangkor, which is a direct translation from the Malay language and has an airport code of PKG. Flights to Pangkor Island Airport will be from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah (Subang Airport), which is scheduled to be a daily direct flight. The reopening of the Pangkor Airport comes as huge news for the island, as it has been years since the airport closed. This has got a lot of people excited, hoping to see an increase in tourism on the island. Pangkor Island Airport To Reopen in October 2019The current structure of the Pangkor Island Airport. Photo SKS Airways Facebook.According to news reports, Pangkor Airport will undergo renovations before opening, and if it all works out well, we should expect the airport to open on schedule. However, things can change, due to government issues, finances, planning and so on, therefore we can only hope that things flow smoothly for the targeted opening. This news also comes as a bonus to everyone as Pangkor Island will be officially a duty-free island from 1st January 2020. The news was announced by the government in early 2019. View of the current Pulau Pangkor Airport in the old design. Photo SKS Airways Facebook.For the inaugural flights to the island, it is mentioned that there will be direct flights from Subang Airport in Petaling Jaya. There are also plans for direct flights from Ipoh?s Sultan Azlan Shah Airport to Pangkor Airport, but currently, the focus is still on the Subang Airport or Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Selangor. History of Pangkor Island AirportThe Pangkor STOL Airport Runway from above.The airport at Pangkor Island officially opened in 1993, as a STOL or short take of and landing airport suitable for only small turboprop planes. The airstrip measures 732 meters long, which can only accommodate smaller passenger planes like the DCH-6 Twin Otter aircraft, and the de Havilland Canada Dash 7. One of the original airlines that operated this route was Berjaya Air, where the Berjaya Group also operates the famous luxury Pangkor Laut Resort on a separate island here. There were three flights a week from Subang Airport which were on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday using the 48 seats de Havilland Canada Dash 7 aircraft. Berjaya Air now operates private charters.Pangkor Airport closed in February 2014, due to several reasons. One of them was that two large resorts had closed down on the island, and there were fewer travelers heading here. When Will Pangkor Island Airport Open? The official news states that the Pulau Pangkor Airport will start operations on 1st October 2019. This is what was mentioned in the mainstream news at the end of March 2019. There will also be flights starting before the official date, and this is due to testing and familiarization with operations and so on. SKS Airways DCH-6 Twin Otter aircraftWhich Airlines Will Fly To Pangkor Island Airport? From what I know, it is said that a new airline called SKS Airways will be flying to Pangkor Airport. The airline is part of the SKS Group, which is a Malaysian Australian hotel and property developer group. SKS Airways will operate the Pangkor flights with a DCH-6 Twin Otter plane, which is a 19 seater turboprop aircraft. Please note that usually, the Twin Otter aircraft can take a maximum of 15 or 16 passengers due to the weight factor. Passengers need to weigh themselves and their luggage when checking in. The airline also plans to operate daily return flights from Subang Airport to Pangkor Airport. As for the flight time, there has been no official announcement yet. SKS Airways, a Malaysia-Australia groupSKS Airways is also applying for a Subang to Ipoh flight, with two return flights daily, and this is also scheduled to start on the 1st October 2019. At the moment, only SKS Airways will be flying to Pangkor from Subang, and there has been no news about any other airline flying there. The main reason is because of the STOL runway, which can only cater to small turboprop aircraft like the Twin Otter, Dash 7 and ATR42-500. Most of the other airlines in Malaysia that operate turboprop planes have the ATR72-500, which cannot land at a STOL airport. The Berjaya Air Dash 7 aircraft that used to fly to Pangkor Island. Photo Wikipedia.How Long Will It Take To Fly To Pangkor Island? From Subang Airport, it takes 40 minutes flight to Pangkor Island one way. This is the normal time when using the Dash 7 aircraft, which was formerly used by Berjaya Air. SKS Airways is now using a Twin Otter plane, and it may take 50 to 60 minutes, due to the smaller aircraft size. But I am unsure about the exact time it will take. This is just an estimate. Just so you know, I have flown on the Twin Otter plane to various destinations in Sarawak, and one of them is to the Bakelalan Airport in the Sarawak Highlands. Where the Pangkor Island Airport is located at.Where Is Pangkor Island Airport? The Pulau Pangkor Airport is located in the north part of the island, and by Teluk Dalam. The main airport building is along Jalan Pasir Bogak, which is the main road that links Teluk Dalam with Teluk Nipah. Pangkor Island is small, and from the airport to Pangkor Town in the south, it only takes a 15-minute drive there. For those traveling to some of the hotels, resorts, and homestays on Pangkor Island, it will take you from five to 20 minutes drive. But if you plan to stay at Pangkor Laut Resort, you can fly in, and then take a boat service to Pangkor Laut Island. An aerial view of the Pangkor Island Airport near Teluk Dalam.ConclusionSince the news came out in late May 2019, many locals in Pangkor Island are looking forward to the reopening of the island airport.This comes as a very positive move towards tourism on the island, and locals are hoping that the direct flights to Pangkor Island will bring in more tourists. The reopening of the Pangkor Airport also compliments the island becoming a duty-free island from the 1st of January 2020. Pangkor Island now joins other duty-free islands in Malaysia that are highly popular among the local travelers, and also the foreigners, and once the Pangkor Island Airport reopens, this should bring in more visitors. 
    Wednesday 29th of May 2019 12:22:00 PM
  • Borneo Jazz Festival 2019 - All You Need To Know
    This year marks the 14th year that the Borneo Jazz Festival is being held in Miri, Sarawak, and is also the second time that the event is taking place at Coco Cabana by the Esplanade.The Borneo Jazz Festival is one of Malaysia's pioneer jazz festivals that has seen over hundreds of jazz musicians from all over the world perform here in Miri.Borneo Jazz 2019 also takes place from 19th to 21st July, which will see numerous local and international artist take stage for the 14th year. Borneo Jazz Festival 2019 - All You Need To KnowZainal Abidin performing at Borneo Jazz 2018Once known as the Miri International Jazz Festival, the festival brand had evolved to capture the name Borneo Jazz Festival as it provided a more international name and feel to it. This festival has and still is the brainchild of the Sarawak Tourism Board, where in 2018, it was outsourced to local Malaysian jazz club called No Black Tie, and this is the second year that they are doing it here at Coco Cabana in Miri. 2019 also sew the Sarawak Tourism Board launch the "Three Festivals One Destination" campaign, where three notable music festivals will be held back-to-back from 5th to 21st July, and from south to north Sarawak.The scene at last years Borneo Jazz Festival.The music festivals involved are the Rainforest Fringe Festival and The Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching, and finally the Borneo Jazz Festival here in Miri. The plan was to coincide all three festivals to happen around the same time, where visitors into Sarawak can possibly attend all festivals during their visit here.Previously, the music festivals were held months apart, where Borneo Jazz was in May, and the Rainforest World Music Festival was in July or August.What is the Objective of the Borneo Jazz Festival?With any music festival or event, there is always an objective behind it, and you may be wondering what the objective for this jazz festival is.It is an ongoing mission to continue to promote music tourism for Sarawak and to collaborate with the local communities.This is to showcase Borneo through its vibrant people, exotic cuisine and wide array of indigenous arts and crafts.For any first timer to Sarawak, you will be pleased to know that this land is not your typical commercial tourism destination, but something that you would least expect.One of the performers during the last Borneo Jazz Festival in Miri.Who is the Organiser or Owner for Borneo Jazz Festival? The Sarawak Tourism Board has always been the creator and owner of the jazz festival till this very day. It has been part of their portfolio in promoting Sarawak using music festivals as an avenue for people to visit.Since 2018, the Sarawak Tourism Board had leased out this project to a well known jazz club in Kuala Lumpur called No Black Tie. They have been successfully been running their jazz shows in the capital for many years.Therefore, from 2018, No Black Tie has been the organiser for the Borneo Jazz Festival, which is still being held in the resort city of Miri. Some of the local and international performers at Borneo Jazz Festival 2019.Who is Performing at the Borneo Jazz Festival 2019? As usual, there will be a creative mix of jazz performers and artist for the Borneo Jazz Festival in Miri, and for this year, the performers list is;Alberto Marsico Trio from ItalyChande Rule from USAClinton Chua from Sarawak, MalaysiaFox Capture Plan from JapanIreson from MexicoJasmine Chen from ChinaJulian Chan Orchestra from MalaysiaKirk Lightsey Trio from USA/MalaysiaNJWA from MalaysiaPete Kallang from Sarawak, MalaysiaRobo Jupiter from USAArabyrd from Sarawak, MalaysiaAsyraf Hardy from Sarawak, MalaysiaBenzooloo from Sabah, MalaysiaZed Peace from BruneiCoco Cabana, the official venue for Borneo Jazz Festival 2019.Where is the Borneo Jazz Festival Held? The event is being held at Coco Cabana at Marina Bay in Miri City, Sarawak. This is an event space that is by the famous Miri Seahorse Lighthouse, and is home to many other events. The venue was chosen last year as a new venue for Borneo Jazz, and this time it is by the seaside with not obstructions.The structure where the jazz festival is held is a traditional wooden structure, that can house up to 500 people. Majority of the design was hand carved wood, where specialist were brought in to do.A glimpse inside of Coco Cabana.Coco Cabana is also minutes from the heart of Miri City, making it easy access for anyone who is visiting for the jazz festival. There are numerous hotels, restaurants, cafes and other shops located in the vicinity of the area. Previously from 2006 to 2017, the Borneo Jazz Festival was always held at the ParkCity Everly Hotel, which is about 10 minutes drive from Miri City.Only in 2018, the official venue was moved to the new place, which is Coco Cabana at Marina Bay Miri.Ticket prices for Borneo Jazz 2019.Where To Buy Tickets To Borneo Jazz Festival? You can buy tickets from the official Borneo Jazz website, or at the door of the event. However, when you buy early, you will be entitled to an early booking discount. Ticket prices vary from one day tickets to the full three day ticket passes. This means that if you are a jazz lover, it is recommended you take the three day ticket pass which is much cheaper.AirAsia is one of the airlines that have multiple daily flights into Miri City.How To Go To Borneo Jazz Festival 2019? There are a few ways, depending on where you are coming from. For locals or expatriates in the area, you may be coming in via road, and those out of Borneo will have to fly in. Flying into Miri - If you are coming into Sarawak, you will have to fly direct into Miri City. There are numerous direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Miri, so if you are from another country, you will connect via Kuala Lumpur. Airlines include AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines. Driving to Miri - If you are living in Brunei or Sabah, your best option would be to drive into Miri as it ill only take you no longer than two hours one way. Those from Bandar Seri Begawan or Kota Kinabalu can do so, and best to leave much earlier to avoid the immigration lines.The location of Coco Cabana in Miri.Where is Coco Cabana? Coco Cabana is located at Miri Marina Bay, and at the end of Jalan Bandaraya. It is a event venue and function space, which caters to many other events in Miri.The overall structure is a massive wooden architecture building, which is the main venue for the Borneo Jazz Festival. Surrounding the area, there is a night bazaar, restaurants and even a bistro.The famous Miri Seahorse Lighthouse is located here as well, and is a highly popular location to catch the beautiful Miri sunsets.One of the split villa units at Eastwood Valley Golf and Country Club in Miri.Where To Stay In Miri? There are many hotels, resorts or even budget accommodations found all over Miri, and this provides many options for visitors coming to attend the Borneo Jazz Festival.It all depends on how you plan to travel, and as a couple, group or family. Most of the hotels are located in the main city area, making it easy yo get to the venue.But again, if you are traveling with elderly people, I would recommend you take a taxi or Grab to the venue from the city, as it will cost around RM3 to RM5 one way.For places to stay in Miri, I am recommending the following places;Pullman Hotel Miri Waterfront - This is one of the nicer international hotels in Miri and suitable for both business and leisure. Book a room at the Pullman Hotel Miri.Miri Marriott Resort and Spa - This is a five star resort, which is considered quite close to the venue, and suitable for those who want some luxury. Book a room at the Miri Marriott Resort.The Roosevelt Studio - A practical and nice budget hotel, which is the closest accommodation to the Borneo Jazz Festival at Coco Cabana. Book a room at The Roosevelt Studio.Meritz Hotel - Located in a shopping mall, and convenient for just about anyone. Single, couples of family travellers. Book a room at the Meritz Hotel. Jinhold Service Apartments - This is suited for those who prefer something like AirBnB, an apartment style stay. Book Jinhold Service Apartments in Miri. Amigo Hotel - This one is a budget style hotel in a shop lot area, which is very close to Coco Cabana. If you are not fussy, this would be a great place with convenience. Book a room at Amigo Hotel. Eastwood Valley Golf and Country Club - If you love jazz and golf, then this is the place to stay at. It is Miri's best golf resort too. Book a room at Eastwood Valley Golf & Country Club.Miri City Homestay - This one is super budget friendly, simple, and suitable for the budget travellers. It is located quite near to the venue as well. Book a room at the Miri City Homestay. A sit down jazz session during the festival. Borneo Jazz Festival 2019Date: 19th to 21st July, 2019Venue: Coco Cabana, Marina Bay, Miri, SarawakWebsite: Borneo Jazz Festival*For full detailed information, I recommend visiting the official website of the Borneo Jazz Festival above, as they have the artist breakdown, and many other valuable information. An actual sunset taken at Coco Cabana in Miri. ConclusionIf you have heard about the Borneo Jazz Festival, and want to experience this, then you should start planning ahead for your flights, accommodation and tickets. This festival is unlike other music festivals, as it showcases a unique side of jazz, and is not your typical concert style event. I hope that you make it to the Borneo Jazz Festival 2019, and that this article has come in handy for you. If you have questions, please ask in the comment form below and see you there. 
    Wednesday 15th of May 2019 01:59:00 PM
  • Bakelalan Bird Watching Trip Report
    One of the few places that has been getting some bird watching attention is no other than the highland village of Bakelalan in Sarawak, Borneo. For the serious bird watchers, this is my Bakelalan bird watching trip report, done in November 2018. First of all, Bakelalan or Ba'Kelalan is a Lun Bawang tribe village, located in the northeast highlands of Sarawak, Malaysia. It is also in the district of Lawas, which can be easily accessed from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah or Miri in Sarawak.Getting here is quite the challenge, but then again, not difficult. However, for bird watchers or photographers, you can take a flight or even drive overland passing the famous Paya Maga Wetlands. Bird Watching Trip Report For BakelalanBirding in Bakelalan is combined with some adventure and amazing outdoors.My bird watching expedition here was actually a cross border initiative, one that involved the Sarawak Tourism Board and the Borneo Bird Club from Sandakan Sabah. This was more of a bird watching inspection trip in order to initiate cross border bird watching tourism between the two states of Malaysia Borneo. Our journey started from the town of Lawas, where the Borneo Bird Club flew in from Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu into Miri, and then caught a MasWings flight into Lawas. I was the only one that flew in from Kuala Lumpur into Miri, and then caught the similar flight into Lawas, where we all met up to continue our journey overland using a couple of 4x4 off road vehicles.Bukit Demaring view point, on the way to Bakelalan. From Lawas, it takes around five to six hours overland through old logging roads, which is not that bad, considering we left as early as 7.00 AM, and to reach Bakelalan by 1.00 PM. Along the way, we made a couple of stops to admire the majestic view of the Maligan Highland Range, which is highly recommended for anyone using this route.One particular stop is called the Bukit Demaring view point, where you can see the beautiful highland range stretch as far as your eyes can see. One main stop was for lunch, at a small licensed logging camp where there was a local cafe serving coffee, tea, noodles and even rice.The signboard at the entrance of Paya Maga IBA in Lawas.Paya Maga IBA in SarawakAlone the way, we passed the much talked about bird watching spots called Paya Maga, which is an Important Bird Area or IBA.Paya Maga was designated as an IBA back in 2010, and it is here where you can spot the endemic Black Oriole, which many birders want to see or photograph. For this trip, we did not do any bird watching in Paya Maga, as our mission was purely to explore Bakelalan and its surroundings. Hence, we stopped to take photos of the entrance area only.Me (the writer) attempting to make some natural salt at the Bakelalan Salt Factory.Visiting the Bakelalan Salt FactoryAs we got closer to Bakelalan village, we made a stop at the Buduk Bui Salt Factory, which is recommended for anyone wanting to see how the local highland salt is processed. Bakelalan is home to a number of natural salt wells, and the natural salt water is pumped into a processing hut, where it is boiled over wood fire until the salt is formed. This part of the tip was more of an understanding of what the Lun Bawang people do in the highlands.Again, the locals here are a farming and agriculture society, hence it is good if you can pay a visit to the Bakelalan salt factory when you are here.The village of Buduk Nur seen from a nearby hill in Bakelalan.Buduk Nur Village in BakelalanWe arrived in Buduk Nur around 2.00 PM, the main village in Bakelalan where the small airport is located at. Here, we met our host and bird guide called Cikgu Sang, or Teacher Sang, who is actually a school teacher in Bakelalan. After meeting his acquaintance, we adjourned by foot to his beautiful home located smack in the middle of the village. At his home, we were welcomed by his wife - Julia Sang, and were treated to some home cooked food. Stories about bird watching filled the air while many questions were being thrown at Cikgu Sang, namely about one elusive bird called the Dulit Frogmouth (Batrachostomus harterti).This is the one endemic bird that can only be seen around Bakelalan, and many bird watchers and photographers from around the world come here to see this nocturnal bird. On our arrival day, we just hung out at Cikgu Sang's lovely home, settled into our simple and comfortable rooms, and just prepared for the following day of bird watching.Birding from the local roads around Bakelalan, with Andrew Saini, Cede Prudente, CK Leong and David Tseu.Day One - Birding in BakelalanWhen we started out early in the morning, we took two 4WD's towards a hillside road which was on higher elevation, overlooking Bakelalan. This was a supposedly new road linking Bakelalan to Bario, the sister village.Reaching our stop, we gradually made our way down on foot and also checking the birds in the canopy tops. A number of spiderhunters, flowerpeckers and mid sized birds were spotted.The walk was easy as it was downhill, and with the cooling weather, it made it fun and enjoyable. This is one of the plus points of bird watching in the highlands.In the afternoons, we just chilled out at the Cikgu Sang's beautiful homestay exchanging birding information and casual talks among the group.A Black and Crimson Oriole perched behind some leaves.Come 4.00pm, we head out to one of the most common sites where the Dulit Frogmouth is usually spotted. This is about 10 minutes drive from the main village of Buduk Nur.After the sun sets, our callings start, and we wait with excitement. No response, and we call again. Still no response, and after about 30 minutes, we move to another spot to repeat the call.Well, Cikgu Sang did mention that the Dulit Frogmouth may be nesting or with a baby, hence it may not show at all. Hence we decided to call it a night and head back.The trek up and down Pa' Sarui Hill in Bakelalan. Buduk Nur is in the distance. Day Two - Birding in BakelalanSame as day one, we started early with the trucks, and this time around we went to Pa' Sarui Hill and its vicinity. This is also where the famous Bakelalan Owl House is located at.The journey here requires you to walk through paddy fields and then cross a small stream which then leads to the beautiful stand-alone wooden house.Once you reach the Owl House, there is a trail from the back which leads you up to Pa' Sarui Hill, which also doubles as one of Bakelalan's best view point.Owl House in BakelalanThere were a number of birds spotted along the trek up, while at the peak, there were less birds there. But as a bonus, the majestic view was incredibly beautiful, especially in the late morning.The trail up is considered medium, but I would not recommend this trail if you have knee or walking  issues. Please take note of this before going up Pa' Sarui view point.At the end of the day, the journey up the hill, spotting  some birds and seeing the amazing scenery was good enough for our group.By lunch, we had gone back down and headed back to Cikgu Sang's home, and after that, we were invited over next door to see the last traditional Lun Bawang Longhouse, which was quite an experience.Crossing streams to look for the Dulit Frogmouth in Bakelalan.Day Three - Birding in BakelalanOur final day of birding saw us going back to our original spot from day one, to see if we could spot one of the much sought after birds - Hose's Broadbill.With luck on our side, after some calling, a couple of them did show up, but they landed in the thick bush, hence we managed to spot them through our binoculars.As for bird photography, luck was not on our side due to the thick bushes. However, we were pleased to know that they are in fact there.Our night session was the final one where we went out to look for the Dulit Frogmouth. This time, Cikgu Sang took us deep into a secluded area, crossing three streams and quite a bit of trekking.The journey to seek the Dulit Frogmouth in Bakelalan.Reaching the spot, we set up gear and waited for dusk, and started calling. Within minutes, a response was heard in the distance. When it got pitch dark, the Frogmouth calls were closer, but high up in the canopy.Luck was not on our side, as with multiple calls from the Frogmouth, we still could not spot it. But it was just there, about 10 meters up in the canopy.Well, I can say that the Dulit Frogmouth is found in Bakelalan, and it doesn't mean that you will be guaranteed to spot it. One theory was that it was the breeding season, hence they don't really show themselves.My next trip to Bakelalan will guarantee that I will be seeking this endemic bird of Borneo, which is apparently spotted in a number of places around Bakelalan.An Ashy Drongo spotted in Bakelalan.List of Birds Spotted in BakelalanBelow is our checklist of birds that we spotted in Bakelalan over the three days of exploring this beautiful highlands of Sarawak.1) Hose's Broadbill2) Black and Crimson Oriole3) Oriental Honey Buzzard4) Bat Hawk vs Rhinoceros Hornbill5) Bornean Bulbul6) Bornean Leafbird7) Cinereous Bulbul8) Bornean Barbet9) Black Thighed Falconet10) Whitehead's Spiderhunter11) Boobook12) Whiskered Treeswift13) Yellow Vented Bulbul14) Blue Eared Kingfisher15) Cattle Egrets16) Barn Swallows17) Eurasian Tree Sparrows18) White Breasted Woodswallow19) Chestnut Hooded Laughing Thrush20) Temminck's Sunbird21) Red Necked Phalarope22) Little Cuckoo Dove23) Verditer Flycatcher24. Mountain Serpent Eagle25. Mountain Barbet26. Blue-eared Barbet27. Little/Malaysian Bronze cuckoo28. Dusky munia29. Chestnut Munia30. Spotted Dove31. Grey-rumped treeswiftA male Scarlet Minivet with an insect catch.The female Scarlet Minivet with another insect photographed nearby.As a bonus, during our birding, we actually did manage to spot some mammals which are listed below;1) Tufted Ground Squirrel2) Whitehead's Pygmy Squirrel3. Bornean black-banded squirrelsThe location of Bakelalan in Sarawak.Where Is Bakelalan? Bakelalan is a highland village located in the Maligan Range in northeast of Sarawak, Borneo. The village is also the closest to the border of Kalimantan, Indonesia.For the locals, Bakelalan is located nearer to Miri, Lawas or even Brunei. From Kota Kinabalu, it will take you about 9 hours to drive there, while from Bandar Seri Begawan, it will take less than seven hours drive.Spotting birds in Bakelalan, Sarawak.How Long To Spend In Bakelalan For Bird Watching? A common question that bird watchers will be asking, and most think that they can just travel in and out for this part of Sarawak.In reality, the optimum time to spend in Bakelalan for bird watching would be four days and three nights. This will ensure that you get to spot the birds that you came for.While many birders will want to also spot the Black Oriole, the trip will be broken up into two sections, one at Paya Maga, and the other at Bakelalan for the Dulit Frogmouth.Kevin from the Sarawak Tourism Board, and Rona Sultan from Heart of Borneo Tours does a weight check at the Lawas Airport check in counter. How To Get To Bakelalan? The best way to get to Bakelalan in Sarawak is to fly into Lawas, and then fly from Lawas to Bakelalan. This journey will require you to take two or three planes.Please note that there are only two or three flights from Lawas to Bakelalan per week, hence you need to time your flights for the trip to Bakelalan.Flying From Kuala Lumpur: Fly into Miri (Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia), then connect to Lawas with MasWings, and from Lawas, connect to Bakelalan with MasWings.Flying From Kota Kinabalu, Sabah: Fly into Miri ((Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia), then connect to Lawas with MasWings, and from Lawas, connect to Bakelalan with MasWings.Driving back to Lawas from Bakelalan, a long journey but worthwhile in many ways.Driving to BakelalanThis would be an easier option, but time consuming as you may end up spending around 10 hours from Miri, Brunei or Kota Kinabalu.However, driving gives you the flexibility to stop and enjoy the local lifestyle along the way and even do some adhoc bird watching.Some bird watchers may prefer to do it this way as you can also make a stopover at the famous Paya Maga IBA, spending the night at the Merarap Hot Spring Resort.Driving From Kota Kinabalu: From KK, you drive all the way south, pass Sipitang to the Sindumin Checkpoint. From there, drive to Lawas town, and is around four or five hours drive to Bakelalan using the old timber roads from Lawas.The total time without checkpoint and stops from Kota Kinabalu: 7 Hours, but with checkpoint and stops, we are looking at around nine hours drive.Driving From Brunei: From Bandar Seri Begawan, you drive to the Tedungan Immigration Post, then head to Limbang town, and to Ujung Jalan, then to the Mengkalap ICQ, and then to Lawas. From Lawas, its a 4 to 5 hour drive to Bakelalan.The total time without checkpoint and stops from Bandar: 6.5 hours, but with stops and so on, it will take you easily 8 to 9 hours drive.From Miri: Head to Sungai Tujuh Checkpoint, then to the Tedungan Immigration Post, then head to Limbang town, and to Ujung Jalan, then to the Mengkalap ICQ, and then to Lawas. From Lawas, its a 4 to 5 hour drive to Bakelalan.The total time without checkpoint and stops from Miri: Eight hours drive, but realistically, it will take you a good 10 to 12 hours drive.Our cross border team with Cikgu Sang (4th from right) and Julia Sang (3rd from right) with Rona (Right).ConclusionBakelalan is truly one of the hidden bird watching destinations of Sarawak, and is slowly getting some recognition for some of the endemic birds found here.Serious bird watchers have already started to come here since 2015, and over the last few years, more birders have been making their way here.While the accessibility may not be commercially feasible, it makes the entire birding experience more memorable. I have also done an article about the many things to do in Bakelalan when you are there.With some of the notable Sabah bird watching guides exploring this destination, it is now easier for them to bring in bird watchers who want to experience birding in both Sabah and Sarawak.Hopefully this Bakelalan bird watching trip report will provide additional information about this exotic birding destination, and a huge thanks goes out to the Sarawak Tourism Board for making this happen.Plus I would also like to thank Cikgu Sang and his beautiful wife Julia Sang for the kind hospitality during our stay there. And also to Rona Sultan from Heart of Borneo Tours for making our trip smooth and memorable.If you have questions, please do ask them in the comment form, and I will do my best to answer them. 
    Tuesday 14th of May 2019 02:08:00 PM
  • Narita Airport vs KLIA2 Review - Part 1
    Following my previous airport review between KLIA2 and Don Mueang Bangkok, many have asked for my reviews of other airports in the region. Here is my first part of the Narita Airport vs KLIA2 review, which is a three part series, and also a congratulatory to KLIA2 for winning some awards. My mission in doing these airport reviews is to help raise awareness about the state of airport services, which many travellers are taking for granted, and by doing so provide constructive feedback to the relevant parties - without bias and prejudice.Narita Airport vs KLIA2 ReviewThe systematic planning at Narita Airport.In March of 2019, I had the pleasure of visiting Narita International Airport in Tokyo, and acquainted myself with its Terminal 3, which is dedicated for low cost carriers.The timing was so good that it was around this time that Skytrax announced its world?s best airports awards, including for low cost carrier terminals - LCCTs. What I found very interesting was both Narita T3 and and KLIA2 were rated Top 3 best LCCTs in the world, which is quite an achievement if you ask me. Two other very popular Japanese airports took the top spots, and the Top 3 Best LCCT for 2019 are;No. 1 - Osaka Kansai T2No. 2 - Narita Airport T3No. 3 - KLIA2 Here is the full list of World?s Best Low Cost Airline Terminals 2019.With KLIA2 coming Top 3 among the world?s best LCCT indeed came as a big saving grace for Malaysia. Why do I say this? Well, KLIA as our main international airport could only afford the 54th spot among world?s best airports. Obviously, something wrong is being done to reach that position. For the record, Narita International was at No 9, and our closest neighbor Singapore Changi was again at No 1, and I do not blame the latter as they really go all out to woo passengers into Singapore. World's Best Airport By Passenger NumbersA view of KLIA Airport in Malaysia.However, if we go by passenger numbers, KLIA is not too bad after all, where we ranked at No 4 for the 50-60 million passengers category.  That sounds like a lot of passengers going through KLIA in the last year alone, and I believe they are trying to up that number to move one more tier up to the 60-70 million passengers category.And over on the AirHelp Airport Ranking 2019 site, KLIA comes in at a whopping number 120 with a score of 6.75 out of 10.AirHelp focuses on passenger experiences, where the site ranks on-time performance, service quality and facilities as the main criteria.On another airport ranking site called World Airport Codes, KLIA again comes in at Number 24, out of the Top 30 Airports in the World. KLIA Ranks No.54 in the Top 100 Airports in the World for 2019.Top 10 Airports in AsiaThis is one category that all airports want to be ranked in, which is the Top 10 Airports in the region, and just so you know, KLIA never did make the list. I wonder what happened here.Notice how Japan has four airports listed in the list of Top 10 Airport in Asia? Singapore ChangiTokyo HanedaSeoul IncheonHong KongCentrair NagoyaTokyo NaritaKansaiTaiwan TaoyuanShanghai HongqiaoSeoul GimpoThe 2019 Skytrax Awards.Back to KLIA2, for some strange reason, Malaysia Airports, who operates the airport, had on several occasions (and in media interviews) earlier claimed that KLIA2 was not an LCCT.But when the news was out that they had won the 3rd place in Skytrax's awards, they were congratulating themselves, and even took to social media on this. The conflicting statements aside, yes as Malaysians I have to say that we are very proud of the KLIA2 achievements.Narita's Terminal 2 exterior. Photo Wikipedia. Carried Away....Seems like I wrote a little too much about the Skytrax Awards, and because of the timing, I guess I wanted to share how the Japanese have made it their mission to rank their airports to be in the Top 10 of any airport ranking. You should also know that the Japanese airports are all run independently, and not by a monopoly, hence for them, they really are going all out to improve the airport facilities, especially with Tokyo 2020 around the corner. ConclusionI would love to continued, but the article is getting a little long, so I will continue to focus on Narita Airport in part two. Stay tuned for Part 2 and also Part 3 of the Narita Airport vs KLIA2 review, which I will publish from week to week here. 
    Friday 10th of May 2019 09:08:00 AM
  • Soekarno-Hatta Terminal 2F is now an LCCT
    In a significant recognition of the economic contributions and future potentials of low cost carriers (LCCs) in the vast archipelago, the Indonesian Government has designated Terminal 2F of Jakarta?s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (SHIA) as dedicated LCC Terminal for international flights.I am sure this is indeed a very proud moment for Indonesians, that they finally have a dedicated LCCT in their pursuit to be a regional LCC powerhouse. Soekarno-Hatta Terminal 2F LCCTEffective 1st May 2019, most of the budget airlines in the region will start to operate from Terminal 2F at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. Passengers must also take note of the following airlines that will be operating from SHIA T2F as below:AirAsia international flights (previously T2D) - from 1 May 2019 [Note that AirAsia Indonesia domestic flights that were previously at Terminal 2F will now move to Terminal 2D and 2E]Cebu Pacific (previously T2D) - from 1 May 2019Lion Air Group (Lion air, Thai Lion, Malindo) international flights (previously T2D) - from 1 May 2019Jetstar Asia (previously T3) - from 15 May 2019Citilink and Tiger Scoot - also scheduled to move to T2F soon, making it a fully international LCCT for Indonesia.Below is a video of the new LCCT at Soekarno-Hatta International AirportAs this strategy involves a realignment of domestic-international flight operations, all domestic flights by Sriwijaya Air and AirAsia that were previously operating at Terminal 2F will move to Terminal 2D/E also from 1st May 2019.There is also a dedicated terminal for umrah pilgrims which is also underway. SHIA is definitely undergoing an exciting transformation, with all of these additions and changes. Even the new Terminal 4 is currently being built. For those who may not be familiar with Soekarno-Hatta International, the airport is divided into three main terminals which are;Terminal 1 (1A, 1B, 1C)Terminal 2 (2D, 2E, 2F)Terminal 3 (which is now designated for full service international flights like those by Garuda, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and others)Soekarno-Hatta International Airport JakartaThe airport?s Terminal 1 (opened in 1985) and Terminal 2 (opened in 1991) were designed by Paul Andreu, a French architect who also designed Paris?Charles de Gaulle Airport in France.One of the characteristics of the airport is the incorporation of the local architecture into the design, and the presence of tropical gardens between the waiting lounges. With the unique characteristics of design and architecture, the airport won the 1995 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Terminal 3 started operations in 2017, and another Terminal 4 is currently in the pipeline.The overall layout map for the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia. (Photo Wikipedia)Why Did They Make the LCCT at T2?According to the airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II, the declaration of T2F as an LCCT was made in response to the Tourism Ministry?s aim to increase tourist arrivals under the Wonderful Indonesia campaign. In 2018, 30% or 4.65 million out of 15.5 million passengers on international routes at Soekarno-Hatta International were in the LCC segment, and this is expected to grow further in 2019. The first quarter of 2019 saw a growth of 2% in LCC international route passengers at SHIA, while aircraft movements increased by 5%.Currently, 60% of passengers at SHIA are millennials, and they form the biggest group of LCC passengers in Indonesia. To cater to and service them better, PT Angkasa Pura II has assured that T2F will be equipped with digital services like self check-in kiosks, self baggage-drop and other value added services.The T2F LCCT was said to be realigned to facilitate a fast departure process, short turnaround time and a happy journey experience for passengers.To me, the most important point is how Indonesia is putting a very big emphasis on the LCC sector by providing a dedicated LCCT that will allow it to grow even further. The adoption of digital services will increase efficiency, cut costs, and enhance the passenger experience travelling in and out of Indonesia's Soekarno-Hatta LCCT in Jakarta. For Indonesian readers, you can also read the media statement by PT Angkasa Pura II, which was issued on the 26th April 2019.Where is Terminal 2F at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport. (Photo: www.ifly.com)ConclusionWell guys, to be fair I have to go and check out the new LCCT at SHIA T2F, and see for myself if it is up to mark. And I also wonder how is it compared to our KLIA2? This is certainly on my airport review list!I have travelled around Indonesia for work and leisure in the last few years, and also to a number of remote places, where I have reviewed the Raja Ampat airport and also the Marinda Waisai airport in West Papua, Indonesia.And if you haven?t, please check out my review of KLIA2 vs Bangkok Don Mueang airport here, and my Tokyo Narita Airport review. I would love to hear your comments below too. 
    Monday 29th of April 2019 11:28:00 AM
  • A Complete Guide to Royal Floria Putrajaya
    For the flower and garden lover, I have come up with a complete guide to Royal Floria Putrajaya, and what is this event all about here in Malaysia. Most Malaysians are generally not interested in flowers and gardens, mainly due to the hot, humid and unpredictable weather in Malaysia.But you will be surprised that there are in fact many who love plants and gardens in Malaysia, and the Royal Floria in Putrajaya is the biggest and best event to visit for this.This amazing Malaysian horticulture event also reflects the standards of the nation's landscaping industry, which has gotten better over the years since it was first inaugurated.Complete Guide to Royal Floria PutrajayaRoyal Floria has also managed to put the country on par with other countries that are known for their flower and garden expos and events.Entrance to Royal Floria in Putrajaya, Malaysia.This complete guide is done for the visitors to fully understand what Royal Floria is all about. Most may know this as Putrajaya Floria, which is a garden and flower expo held for a week in Putrajaya. The event sees over 1,000,000 visitors and has a wide range of activities, exhibitions, bazaars, demonstrations and many other fringe events that take place here in Putrajaya.The Putrajaya garden, flower and horticulture expo originally started in 2007 as a biannual event, and from the year 2010, it became an annual event due to the overwhelming response from the public and participants.10th anniversary of Royal Floria in 201810th Anniversary of Royal Floria Putrajaya2018 marked the 10th anniversary of Royal Floria and featured a special showcase of the last 9 years of Floria as the main display. This was a stand-alone special garden for visitors to walk through.Visitors are taken through a special garden time walk with displays of the theme flowers starting from 2007 right till 2016 and with some basic information of each year.Royal Floria 2018 showcased 10 years of Floria, this is Floria 2009 with the Orchid theme.Overall landscaping was done using all the flowers from the previous years, which created a vibrant outlook for the flower festival.His Majesty the Sultan of Selangor officiated the event on the first day along with VIPs and other dignitaries.Below is the official poster for Royal Floria 2019 which was issued out on the 21st of July 2019. The 11th installation of the flower and garden show takes place from the 31st of August to the 8th of September 2019.It will also be held at the Taman Botani Putrajaya of Precinct 1, Putrajaya. The event will also open from 10.00 AM to 10.00 PM.Royal Floria 2019, with a theme called Mother of all Gardens, Orchids & Bonsai.Previous Floria Putrajaya and Royal Floria Shows with ThemesBelow is a list of the event from the start till 2018, and showing what were the flower themes of each year. Articles are linked to my review for some of the years the event was held. Royal Floria Putrajaya 2019 - Mother of All Gardens, Orchids, and BonsaiRoyal Putrajaya Floria 2018 - 10 Wonders of Floria, every theme flower from last 9 yearsRoyal Putrajaya Floria 2017 - There was no event this yearRoyal Putrajaya Floria 2016 - Chrysanthemum ThemeRoyal Putrajaya Floria 2015 - Lily ThemeFloria Putrajaya 2014 - Begonia ThemeFloria Putrajaya 2013 - Orchid Theme (Orkid)Putrajaya Floria 2012 - Flower Paper Theme (Bunga Kertas)Putrajaya Floria 2011 - Rose Theme Floria Putrajaya 2010 - Heliconia ThemeFloria Putrajaya 2009 - Orchid Theme (Orkid)Floria Putrajaya 2008 - There was no event for this yearFloria Putrajaya Flower and Garden Exhibition 2007 - Hibiscus ThemeBegonia was the theme flower for Floria 2014.What is Royal Floria? Originally called Floria Putrajaya Flower and Garden Exhibition, then Floria Putrajaya, this unique event was renamed as Royal Floria in 2015 by Her Majesty, the Queen of Malaysia. The Royal endorsement was graced by the HM Queen of Malaysia on the 29th of May 2015, and at the Royal Garden of Negeri Sembilan. A large Floria sign is seen at the eventHowever, reports state that in 2014, the ?Royal? status was awarded by His Majesty Agong (King) of Malaysia, and this needs to be clarified as there is no official documentation.Royal Gardens also became part of the exhibition where each year, a different state in Malaysia would feature their own Royal Garden or Taman Di Raja as one of the main exhibits.Visitors are allowed to visit these beautifully manicured Royal Gardens and also take photos. A good tip is to come as early as possible if you want nice photos with a clear blue sky.Otherwise, visit the Royal Garden during sunset hour for the magical moment when the lights are put on.Putrajaya's enchanted garden at Royal Floria 2018Royal Floria is also the brainchild of the Putrajaya Corporation (Perbadanan Putrajaya or PPj), and they work in collaboration with the Federal Territories Ministry.This event is also supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of Malaysia, and also Tourism Malaysia, to brand this as a major tourism event in Malaysia.In 2017, Royal Floria won the Malaysia Tourism Council (MTC) Gold Award for The Biggest Flower and Garden Festival in Malaysia.Since then, Royal Floria has also won numerous awards and accolades locally and also internationally. Floria 2010 with the Heliconia themed garden on displayFloria Putrajaya HistorySince the humble beginnings of the Putrajaya Flower and Garden Exhibition in 2007, it has been ten years since the inaugural event. In 2018, the theme was also called Celebrating 10 years of Floria. The first Putrajaya Flower Expo was also opened by then Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in front of the Palace of Justice at 9.00 am on Aug 25, 2007. There was no official theme except that it was in conjunction with Malaysia's 50th Anniversary of Independence, and the event was selected as one of the national level events for Malaysia.Today, this flower and garden event is marked in the tourism calendar of Malaysia, making it one of the must-visit events in Malaysia during the National Day week.Beautiful flower colors on display at Royal Floria Putrajaya.However, being the first time the event was held, there were many hiccups which included dying flowers, wilting flowers and plants, bad layout designs and no proper signages. Over the years, all of these issues were ironed out by the organizers, and till today, Royal Floria has become of Malaysia's most beautiful and successful outdoor events.A Merdeka themed garden in conjunction with the Malaysia National Day.Did You Know? Did you know that Royal Floria always takes place around the month of Merdeka or the Malaysia National Day? It also lasts for nine whole days at Anjung Floria.Because of this, there is a lot of emphasis on the elements of the nation's independence that is used on the floral decorations. They are also done by professionals and also the college and university students.This, in turn, results in some beautiful creations by the designers and landscapers for the largest floral and gardens exhibition in Malaysia.When is the Best Time to Visit Royal Floria in Putrajaya? This is a tricky question, but if you ask me, I would personally recommend you visit the flower exhibition in the first few days.It is also best to visit just before the weekend, as the event can get really crowded on weekends and on National Day. Trust me, it does get really crowded.For photographers, or those who want some peace and quiet, I would highly recommend going on an opening day, and in the morning or evening. Try to avoid going on midday as it can get really hot and humid.For those who dislike the humid weather, I recommend going in the evenings, when the weather is much cooler. The event closes at around 11.00 PM, so you have a lot of time in the night there.One of the floral displays located indoor.Exhibitions and Displays at Royal FloriaEvery year, various international designers and landscape architects from around the world are invited to participate and showcase their creative work and designs at Royal Floria. Over the years, there have been many countries taking part, namely the Southeast Asian and Greater Asia countries that have been strong supporters of this royal event.Designers floral work.There have even been countries from as far as the Middle East and Europe that have taken part in Royal Floria in Putrajaya.Every year, we see new countries participating, and in 2018, Korea had also participated in the event. Hopefully, for Royal Floria 2019, we will see even more countries participating. Among some of the main displays and events that are held on a yearly basis are below;Royal Floria Entrance StatementRoyal Floria Wonder GardenRoyal Floria Royal GardenRoyal Floria Miniatur GardenRoyal Floria Fertigation GardenRoyal Floria International DialogueThe main entrance into Royal Floria in Putrajaya.Royal GardenThis is one of the main highlights of the event where every year, a state from Malaysia will be selected to showcase their Royal Garden at the event.An elaborately designed garden will be created by the participating state, complete with a mock-up of the royal palace for that state. And like every year, the King or Queen of Malaysia will be invited to graciously officiate the event, followed by a special tour of the Royal Garden and the event grounds. Often, the prime minister or deputy prime minister of Malaysia is also invited for the official launching of Royal Floria.The word Floria at the entrance of the event.What Goes On At Royal Floria?While flowers and plants are the main highlights at this Malaysian horticulture event, there are a few other things that go one during the nine-day event here.Exhibits of themed gardens are held indoors and of course outdoors from participating teams, councils and companies from around Malaysia, and also some regional companies.Though creativity takes center stage here, a fun-filled family or couple activity is easily achieved when you spend the day here.And apart from just the flowers and gardens, there are of course other things happening at Royal Floria, which are;Flower and Garden DisplaysColleges and Universities GardensFloral Pavilion Orchid DisplayBonsai DisplayOutdoor Plant BazaarCraft Bazaar IndoorFloria Flavours Food CenterHorticulture TalksWorkshops and DemonstrationsVarious ContestsOrchids being sold at the Plant Bazaar of Royal Floria.Plant Bazaar at Royal FloriaEvery year, there will be a plant and garden bazaar at Royal Floria where numerous vendors from around Malaysia will set up shop at a specialized area of the event. This plant and garden bazaar is highly popular among the locals as it is the one time that you can find many different vendors selling all sorts of plants, flowers, orchids, air plants, fertilizers and so on.On average, there are about 20 vendors that provide an avenue to beginners or even plant collectors to get some of the plants and fertilizers for discounted prices.Orchid vendors at the plant bazaar.Most popular are the orchid vendors, that showcase many different types of orchids for sale. This is a big hit among the locals and also orchid lovers.Many locals will head to the Plant Bazaar to buy all sorts of plants because the vendors come from all over Malaysia.And if you love plants, I would highly recommend you make your way to the Plant Bazaar at Royal Floria.Vendors include many orchid sellers, who have some beautiful hybrid and rare orchids, air plant sellers, cacti and succulent sellers, and the commercial landscaping plants.Inside the Royal Floria Craft Bazaar and Hipster SquareCraft Bazaar and Hipster SquareThis section is held inside an air-conditioned tent at the event and houses over 50 vendors. You will find a good mix of items being sold here, but of course, the priority goes to plant-related sellers.Overall there are all sorts of everything at the Royal Floria Craft Bazaar which range from clothes, food, jewelry, collectibles, terrariums, and the list goes on.In the middle of the event hall, they have a horticulture themed art experience for kids and also adults, which is open to everyone.There are also workshops and demonstrations done here. The art session and vendor list change from year to year too.One of the contestants for the Royal Floria awards. Royal Floria Contest and AwardsEvery year, Royal Floria will have various contests held throughout the duration of the event here in Putrajaya. There are also special awards given out to participants as well.The contest is divided into a few main areas, one for the invited participants, one for the media, and the other for the visiting public.Below is a list of the contest that is usually held in conjunction with Royal Floria;Contest and Awards for ParticipantsGarden Prime Awards - This is for participants that showcase gardens at the event, and stand a chance to win a cash prize of RM15,000. Designer Boutique Garden Award - Another award and prize totaling RM10,000 for this category. Garden of Malaysia Award - This category has a cash prize of RM5,000 as well. Royal Floria Putrajaya Inter­na­tional CupBonsai and Suiseki Competition AwardsOrchid Competition AwardsSome of the air plants that make interesting photography subjects.Contest for MediaBest Media Article - RM5,000 for either print or electronic mediaBest Media Photograph - RM5,000 for either print or electronic mediaContest for PublicPhotography Competition - Open to the public, but you need to register at the event for this.Watercolor Competition - Open to kids, and registration at the event.Colouring Contest - For kids and set on a specific day, registration required.One of the floral competition pieces on display.Where is Royal Floria?This prestigious event is held in Precinct 4 of Putrajaya, at a place called Anjung Floria. This is a specially dedicated event area for Royal Floria.Previously, the first few events were held at Precinct 2 of Putrajaya, and after negotiations over the years, the organizers finally found a home here at Precinct 4.Anjung Floria is located near the main CBD area of Putrajaya, where all the government administrative buildings are located at.It is also located just by the Seri Saujana Bridge, which is one of the most modern and beautiful bridges in Putrajaya.One of the creative designs using flowers on display indoors.Royal Floria Ticket PricesTickets to Royal Floria are available at the door, or you can buy them online at the official website. Usually, there are discounted tickets a few months before the event. Below is the current price of tickets for Malaysia and foreigners, with special discounts for children, senior citizens, and disabled people.Please note that there are weekday and weekend tickets for Royal Floria and the prices below are based on the 2018 event. Weekday TicketsMalaysian Adult - RM12.00Malaysian Child (7 to 12 Years Old) - RM6.00Malaysian Senior Citizen/OKU - RM6.00Non-Malaysian Adult - RM24.00Non-Malaysian Child/Senior Citizen/OKU - RM12.00Weekend TicketsMalaysian Adult- RM15.00Malaysian Child (7 to 12 Years Old) - RM6.00Malaysian Senior Citizen/OKU - RM8.00Non-Malaysian Adult - RM30.00Non-Malaysian Child/Senior Citizen/OKU - RM16.00*OKU is also known as Disabled People. Directions to Royal Floria from Kuala Lumpur.How To Go To Royal Floria Putrajaya?There are many ways to drive into Putrajaya and it depends on where you live. Below are the main highways that you can access Putrajaya.Elite Highway (AH2)MEX Highway (E20)LDP Highway (E11)SKVE Highway (E26)North-South PLUS Highway (E2)For Locals Visiting PutrajayaHonestly, the best way to get to Putrajaya without any hassle is by driving here. It takes about 50 to 60 minutes' drive from Kuala Lumpur, and there are ample parking spaces around Royal Floria.It is also recommended to use Waze or Google Maps and just key in Anjung Floria and follow the instructions, and it will lead you directly to the event. I usually do that when I visit the event. However, if you do not own a car or motorbike, you can still take public transport like the train service, or even take a taxi or ride-hailing services like Grab, GoCar or MyCar. For Foreigners Visiting PutrajayaFor foreigners, there are a few ways to get here which is by either using public transport, trains, taxi or private car services like Grab, or other ride-hailing services.You will need to download the application onto your Android or Apple smartphone, and please note that there is no Uber in Malaysia. How To Take A Train To Putrajaya?The most affordable way to travel to Putrajaya is by taking the train and then using Grab to move around. However, you may consider the other options below.Train - KLIA Transit from KL Sentral and get off at Putrajaya station and then take the local Nadi Putra Bus. Taxi - From KL Sentral, it is around RM45-50 one way to Putrajaya. To get back from Putrajaya, I suggest you call a taxi service or use Uber or GrabCar. If you take a normal taxi, I also suggest you tell the taxi man that you may need a return journey or get his contact number. Bus - Rapid KL bus from KL Sentral to Putrajaya, around RM5 one way. Bus services usually end around 10 to 11pm.Shuttle Bus - Some hotels in Kuala Lumpur offer a paid shuttle service to and from, but you need to check with your hotel. Shangri-la Hotel in KL is one of them. Swimming pool view from the Pulse Grande Hotel in PutrajayaWhere To Stay In Putrajaya?For those planning to come from out of town or want to spend a few days here, I have also come up with a list of hotels in Putrajaya where you can stay.Most of these hotels are in the 3 to 5-star ratings, and offer a choice of budget choices, depending on which you prefer.If you think you need to spend a night here and not rush things, you can check-in for the night and leave the following day.Below is a list of hotels in Putrajaya which are in the main area;Pulse Grande Hotel Putrajaya (Former Shangri-La Hotel) - This is a 5-star hotel with an average price of RM230 per night. Book a room at Pulse Grande Hotel Putrajaya. Pullman Resort Lakeside Putrajaya - This is a 5-star resort and spa, located near the lake area. The average price is about RM300 per night. Book a room at Pullman Resort Putrajaya. Everly Hotel Putrajaya - This is a 4-star hotel with an average price of around RM200 per night.Book a Room at the Everly Hotel Putrajaya. Dorsett Putrajaya (closest hotel to the venue) - This 4 Star hotel has an average price of around RM260 per night and tends to sell out fast.Book a room at the Dorsett Putrajaya. Map to Royal FloriaBelow is a map to Royal Floria Putrajaya, which is held at Anjung Floria in Precinct 4, at the end of the main commercial district.You can use the map to get directions here or simply key in Anjung Floria into Waze or Google Maps for directions and it will direct you to the event. Royal Floria AddressAnjung Floria, Presint 4, 62000 Putrajaya, MalaysiaTel: 03-8893 1967Opening Hours: 9.00 AM to 11.00 PMWebsite: http://floriaputrajaya.com.my/Organizer, Manager, and Supporters of Royal FloriaPutrajaya Corporation (PPj) - OrganiserPutrajaya Leisure and Services (Pulse) Group - ManagerPutrajaya Floria Sdn Bhd (PFSB) - ManagerFederal Territories Ministry - Supported Tourism and Culture Ministry - Supported Tourism Malaysia - Supported The Terengganu Garden at Royal Floria 2018Final Thoughts on Royal Floria PutrajayaEvery year, Royal Floria takes place at Anjung Floria in Putrajaya, and when there is no event, the place is open to the public as a general garden where you can walk around. Due to the initiative of the organizer, the event is supported by a number of local tourism bodies and also the private sector. Only in 2017, there was no Royal Floria event due to financial matters from the government side.For your added knowledge, the Penang Flora Festival also took place in 2015 at the Penang Botanical Garden but never followed through. However, the Penang Orchid Show was a more popular event on the island.You can also read my review on the previous Royal Floria 2018, which of course I attend yearly without fail, and there are also photos with information about the event. As I have always been an avid lover of plants, gardens and flowers, namely the more exotic and rare types of jungle ferns and orchids, I do get to see some of them at this event. And it kind of makes my day, especially when I end up buying more than I budgeted.I hope you found this complete guide to Royal Floria Putrajaya helpful, and if you have any comments, I would love to hear them in the comment form below. 
    Wednesday 24th of April 2019 12:17:00 PM
  • New Tourist Attraction in Kuala Lumpur - Kwai Chai Hong
    There is a new tourist attraction in Kuala Lumpur called Kwai Chai Hong, and it is found around Petaling Street or Chinatown in KL. For those of you who love heritage and street art, this is one of the highly recommended places to visit. First of all, what is Kwai Chai Hong? Well, it is a little complicated to make a direct translation, but in English, it would simply be called Prankster Lane.This would be the most simplified and suitable name for this beautiful heritage place, but I have a detailed explanation further in this article for those interested.Kwai Chai Hong at Petaling StreetKwai Chai Hong is also known as Prankster Lane, which is at Petaling Street in KLThe history of this lane goes way back to over 50 years ago, but some say that it stretches even further back. Anyway, Prankster Lane in Kuala Lumpur got its nickname by the locals who lived there back in the day. The entire project is simply called Kwai Chai Hong, which comprises of 10 units of category 3 heritage buildings that are parallel to Jalan Petaling or Petaling Street. The heritage units are found facing Jalan Petaling, and some of them are facing the inner road called Lorong Panggung, which is also the main entrance to this heritage lane in Kuala Lumpur. The main attraction here is the actual Kwai Chai Hong, where a traditional Chinese arch welcomes visitors through a wooden Chinese bridge, and into a back alley. Once you enter the main archway into the lane, you will come to a junction which splits left and right, and both of them are dead ends. On the longer stretch where the murals are located, you can exit through Bubble Bee Cafe, which has a special back entrance to Kwai Chai Hong.Zeen Chang in white and grey, gives a detailed tour at the arch entrance of Kwai Chai HongWhat Is Kwai Chai Hong? In the Cantonese dialect, Kwai Chai means Little Ghost and Hong means Lane. But to use that as the main name in English, wouldn't work too well. Hence they gave it a more suitable name of Prankster Lane.So what is Kwai Chai? A direct meaning would be a little demon, or as the Malays call them 'Toyol'. These are the mischievous little ghost, which are similar to the famous cartoon ghost called Casper.There are two theories to how this place was named, but again, there is no written proof on this, hence all two are valid speculations of the past.First Theory - Back in the day, Theater Lane was known to be a notorious place where all the vices took place. We are talking about drinking, gambling, prostitution, opium dens and gang-related activities that took place here.Because of the vice that took place here, there was a local gang called the Dragon Tiger Gang, who used Theater Lane as their hideout. The gang leader was said to call his members 'Little Ghost' or Kwai Chai.Second Theory - After the gang scene there, the place cleaned up a little, and local kids who lived there would run around in mischief, playing games and often pranks on the people there.Because of these mischievous kids, many locals who lived there called them 'Kwai Chai', due to their naughty and erratic behaviour.So this is how the interesting place got its name Kwai Chai Hong in Cantonese, and has been a very niche historical side of Kuala Lumpur that not many people know about.The beautiful street art murals at Kwai Chai HongStreet Art at Petaling Street - Kwai Chai HongIf you are a street art lover, then Kwai Chai Hong is one of the places to visit in Petaling street or Chinatown KL. In this lane, there are six beautiful murals, all drawn by local Malaysian artist. They are spaced apart, and each of them has an interactive QR code where if you scan it, it will tell you a story of the mural. However, it is in Chinese, hence you may want someone to translate it for you.During  my visit here on the 13th April 2019, it was a media preview where the owners were there to explain the entire restoration and refurbishment project.They also invited a few of the artist who contributed to the street art murals located there. I have to say that the finished art pieces were very impressive.If you are lucky, there will be one of the staff who will provide a free guided tour, but this may only happen on weekends. Best to check with the cafe first about the free guided tours.Kwai Chai Hong MuralsBelow are photos of the various murals found at the location, and again, they are free to visit, so if you are in Kuala Lumpur, head here to see some of KL's nostalgic Chinese heritage being showcased through this project.Couple on Bridge - One of the first murals you will see when walking in through the arch.The artist who drew Er Hu UncleArtist who drew 'Kids Playing Marbles'A controversial mural called 'The Prostitute'. However, I can easily call this Cabaret Dancer or Singer. Zeen Chang, one of the owners of the project explains the multiple murals on the higher level.Who Owns and Manages Kwai Chai Hong? This passion project is managed by Bai Chuan Management Sdn. Bhd., a local Malaysia company with five partners, and was officially launched on the 11th of April 2019.The main objective of this project is to bring back memories of the good old days, and hopefully to lure the younger generation, or in other words, the millennials by introducing arts, culture and heritage in one place.Another wish is that Kwai Chai Hong will hopefully be the next best Instagram place in Kuala Lumpur.The entire project took around eight months to complete, and cost around RM1.5 million. The beautiful murals you see there also cost around RM120,000.Inside the Bubble Bee Cafe, with the back entrance to Prankster LaneBubble Bee Cafe at Petaling StreetBubble Bee Cafe is also a new concept local fusion and lifestyle cafe, which serves coffee, snacks and food.They offer light and heavy meals, and personally, I tried their signature grilled chicken panini sandwich, which was pretty awesome. This cafe is located towards the south end of the main Petaling Street market, where you just walk down the road, and you can spot Bubble Bee Cafe.It is an intermediate unit, with a huge mural of a little girl peeking from the top floor of the building. If you look towards the roof when you are walking, you will easily spot this.Location of Kwai Chai HongHow to go to Kwai Chai Hong?Basically, the Kwai Chai Hong Project is located at the south end of Jalan Petaling or Petaling Street. There are two end of the walking market, and from the south end, you continue to walk another 100 meters.Once you see Bubble Bee Cafe, you can enter though there, or just walk to the end of the row and make two right turns into the back lane. This back lane is known as Lorong Panggung.Anyone who is visiting KL Chinatown can easily walk here as it takes two to three minutes walk from the south entrance of Petaling Street.If you are driving or taking a ride hailing service, just use Bubble Bee Cafe as your final destination. From there, just walk through or around the row of shops.The area where Kwai Chai Hong is located, by google maps. Kwai Chai Hong Petaling StreetLorong Panggung, Off Jalan Petaling, Kuala LumpurHours: 9.00 AM till 6.00 PM dailyYou can also access Kwai Chai Hong through Bubble Bee Cafe, which has a back exit to the lane. Just pop in, have some coffee or snacks, then head out the back entrance into the lane.Artist were seen doing sketches of the lanePhotography at Kwai Chai HongFor this review and article, I used a Samsung Galaxy S10+ smartphone for all my photos here, and with very little edits.Overall, I have to say that the smartphone camera technology has improved so fast that I challenged myself by only using a smartphone versus a DSLR camera.While the photos here are resized for web use, I must conclude that the actual high resolution photos are very real and natural.The great thing about the Samsung Galaxy S10+ is the multi zoom function which makes taking photos so easy. My favourite is still the wide angle zoom, which is a 123 degree view, capturing a super wide angle.View of Kwai Chai Hong from the upper level of the streetConclusionIf you are visiting Kuala Lumpur and want to explore something new here, I would highly recommend you take a walk to Kway Chai Hong and see the beautiful restoration and street art here. Please do go in the morning or afternoon, as they close this lane after 6.00 PM. This is currently the timing set by the owners, but it could change in the future. Overall, this is one of the latest tourist attractions in Kuala Lumpur, which is free and suitable for anyone who loves to see something different. 
    Sunday 14th of April 2019 08:35:00 AM
  • Marinda Airport Waisai Review
    This review of the Marinda Airport in Waisai is for anyone who plans to fly from Sorong to Waisai in the Raja Ampat Regency if West Papua.You should know that there is currently one daily flight from Sorong to Waisai, and this is the closest airport to entering the main Raja Ampat area. From other major cities in Indonesia, all the flights will land at the Domine Eduard Osok Airport in Sorong, West Papua.Usually, travelers will opt to take the ferry or boat to Waisai before catching the local boats to your resort in Raja Ampat. For those who get seasick, flying from Sorong to Waisai would be your best option, as it only takes a 30-minute flight.If you take a ferry or fast boat from Sorong, it will take you around two hours by sea, and this all depends on sea conditions, which are usually not that bad. Review of Marinda Airport WaisaiThe welcome sign as you walk into the Marinda Airport in Waisai, Raja Ampat.On my trip to Raja Ampat in late 2017, I was fortunate to have experienced flying from Makassar to Sorong, and then catch a connecting flight to Marinda Airport here in Waisai.Therefore, I am doing this airport review for anyone who plans to do this same route, in order of cutting some travel time. The Marinda Airport (RJM) is considered to be one of the very small airports in this part of Indonesia, which is a Class 3 domestic airport.This is also the closest airport to the Waisai Harbor where you catch your boat to the resort you are staying at.The Marinda Airport officially opened in May 2012, which is due mainly to the increase in tourism to Raja Ampat.Currently, the airport is undergoing structural renovations to better the facilities and load of the terminal.The renovations include extending the airport runway in order to accommodate larger wide-bodied aircraft like the Airbus A320's and Boeing 737's. At the moment, only the ATR turboprop planes can land here.Arriving lets you walk to the main terminal buildingThe Indonesian transport ministry is hoping to turn the Marinda Airport into an international airport, to receive more guests into Raja Ampat. Originally initiated in 2015, renovations were ongoing when I visited this place. The current runway is only 1,200 meters long by 30 meters wide, and a very small terminal with a total size of 120 square meters.This is the old format of small remote airports in Indonesia, but with tourism leading the way here, it is only right to renovate this airport for the future.Surprisingly in 2017, a total of 40,000 tourists visited Raja Ampat, making this one of the up and coming places to visit in Indonesia. Here is a fun fact - The unique name of Marinda Airport (Bandar Udara Marinda) is also adopted from the combination of West Papua regional leader (Bupati), where his name is Marcus Wanma and also vice Bupati Inda Arfan.So they simply named the airport after both of them calling it Marinda.The baggage collection area is still manual hereFacilities at Marinda Airport WaisaiWhen you arrive, be prepared to go back in time. The aircraft will make a quick landing and then a quick turnaround, before stopping about 10 meters from the airport entrance.Sorry, there is no shuttle bus or aero bridges here, you exit the aircraft and take a nice slow walk to the terminal building. The airport is so small, there is only one door leading into the arrival room. Luggage is still manual and dropped through a hole in the wall.You pick up your own bags as the staff put them through the hole. Honestly, this was so old school, as I have seen this at some other remote airports in Borneo too. Once you have collected your luggage, it will take you five steps, and you are outside the arrival entrance.Here you will be greeted by the local drivers or 'supirs' who will ask you if you need a taxi service or if you are a confirmed guest.Before you exit, there are some general notice boards with signs indicating how much it will cost to travel around Waisai.The one and only gift and general store at Marinda Airport.Sorry to say, there is no coupon or taxi counter at this small airport. You will find only locals dressed in their everyday attire, waiting to pick up confirmed guests or act as taxis.If you have arranged a pick up with your resort, they would most likely send a modern-day air-conditioned van to pick you up. Well, I did see a couple that used one of the services. There are toilets, but they look like a scene from the 1980s. They are overall clean and usable, as some of us had to go after landing.But do not attempt to shower or drink the local water from the bathroom taps. Just buy a bottle of mineral water from outside the general shop.Promotional banners on Raja Ampat are the only colors you see just as you exit the airport.Yes, there is only one little shop that sells coffee, tea, some local snacks, and instant noodles. This is located just outside the arrival hall by the entrance.From what I saw, only the locals will frequent this place for their daily coffee fix or a quick meal while waiting for guests to arrive. There is nothing modern in terms of Starbucks, souvenir shops or any kind of shop. Just one local general shop, so if you need to buy anything, please do so at the Sorong airport in West Papua before you come here.The transportation service from the Marinda Airport to various places in Waisai.Outside, minor renovations are still ongoing, but I guess at a very slow pace as debris and construction materials are seen lying around the area.Well, they are doing upgrading works, and according to the locals, the new Marinda airport should be ready by the end of 2018 or early 2019, if it all goes smoothly. Marinda Airport is a stand-alone airport and located about 20 minutes out of the Waisai Harbor. My group was decently large with about 15 people, hence a local bus from the 1980s was arranged to send us to the harbor. It was classic design with no air-conditioned, and slide up windows, this was truly a trip down memory lane.The bus ride took us through a pristine rainforest, which was so raw, just like those I have seen deep in Borneo. I sat at the last seat by the window to capture anything out of the ordinary on my camera, and to my surprise, as the bus was traveling, an eagle was flying next to the bus after being startled.You can imagine the look on my face when I saw it. This is truly Raja Ampat.By the way, if you are planning to visit this exotic place in West Papua, please don't forget to get your Raja Ampat Marine park permit from Sorong before you come to Waisai.Wings Air ATR-72 aircraft that flies to the Marinda AirportAirlines that fly to Marinda Airport in WaisaiAs of April 2018, only two airlines fly to Marinda Airport in Waisai. They are Susi Air which uses a Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft since 2012, and Wings Air which started once a day flights in January 2017. Wings Air uses an ATR 72-600 aircraft for this flight which operates four cities. The flight route is Manado, Waisai, Sorong, and Manokwari which is a once a day flight. This means the airport only operates from 8.00 AM to around 5.00 PM. Apparently, Nam Air and Sriwijaya Air are to operate flights to Marinda Airport from the Sorong Airport as well.There are a total of 17 flights a week operating this route, but you should double check the schedules, as, at times, other airlines may cancel or reschedule.News also surfaced in 2018 that there may be AirAsia flights to Raja Ampat in the near future, but it was only verbally announced.Once AirAsia starts flying here, the airline will most likely land at the Sorong Airport due to the aircraft size used, unless the Marinda Airport is ready to accept larger aircraft.  Marinda Airport Waisai Address: Jln. Marinda Waisai Raja Ampat.GPS Coordinates: 00 ° 25'56,3 "S130 ° 46'22,33" EContact: marinda.airport@gmail.comFinal Thoughts to the Marinda Airport ReviewRaja Ampat is home to 75 percent of the world?s corals, with a whopping total of 553 coral species and 1,437 coral reef species.The destination also contains the richest marine biodiversity on earth, making this place one of the best places for snorkeling and scuba diving in the world.To travel here, you can read my other article on how to get to Raja Ampat, as I share the most common ways to travel here.Overall, I would say that you should not be booking a three or five-day trip here as it is not worth it. You really need to spend at least a week in Raja Ampat to fully enjoy this amazing place. Again, for those who plan to take a flight from Sorong to Waisai, this is the main airport that you will arrive at, and I hope you got some valuable information from my review Marinda Airport in Waisai. 
    Thursday 21st of February 2019 11:44:00 AM
  • Don Mueang Airport vs KLIA2 Review
    As a frequent traveller all these years, I have visited more than 50 different airports ranging from really small to mega world class airports, and I guess it is time that I put some focus on airport reviews now. This is not my first airport review as towards the end of this article, I will share some of my other airport reviews done over the last few years.However, in this review, I would like to emphasise on the current budget or low cost terminals that have changed travel rapidly in the last decade, and it will focus on the Don Mueang International Airport and KLIA2, Malaysia's budget airline airport.The Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2.Review of the Don Mueang International Airport vs KLIA2First and foremost, flying into Don Mueang airport  requires you to be on a budget airline, and for me, it was AirAsia that flies from Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 or KLIA2 to the Bangkok budget terminal. As I have been flying into Bangkok for the last 30 years, using various airlines, I would like to share how Don Mueang was quite run down after Suvarnabhumi Airport took over as Thailand's international airport.The new terminal two of Don Muang International. Since September 2006, all major airlines moved to the new international airport, and Don Mueang closed shortly for some renovations, only to reopen back in March 2007. Since then, the former airport was known as the low cost carrier airport of Bangkok. If you have been flying as long as I have, you would have known how bad the condition of Don Mueang was back in 2006 to 2013. But soon, it all changed to one of the most efficient airports in the region. Well, all I can say is that Thailand really valued tourism very much, and from 2013 to 2018, tremendous improvements have been done to make this one of the most easiest airports in Southeast Asia to visit. Below is a timeline of what Airports of Thailand did, and is still doing for the Don Mueang Airport;September 2013 to May 2014 - Three billion Baht renovation for Terminal 2.December 2015 - Completion of Terminal 2. Passenger capacity increased to 30 million a year.December 2018 - 38 million passenger capacity achieved.2018 to 2024 - 38 billion Baht expansion plan, includes Terminal 3. When you look at the statistics and numbers for Don Mueang Airport, it is no surprise that Thailand is going full steam ahead for the tourism arrivals, and to do so, you need a fully functional airport that can handle this.Nok Air is one of the airlines that flies from Don MueangWhat Airlines Fly To Don Mueang Airport? There is no doubt that AirAsia is Don Mueang's biggest customer, with AirAsia Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia all landing there. However, there are also many other budget carriers that land here as well. They include;AirAsia - Malaysia- Thailand- Philippines- IndonesiaMalindo AirNok AirNokScootScootJC InternationalThai AirAsia XThai Lion AirTigerair TaiwanAs a hub for budget airlines, I have to say it is quite impressive to have so many different airlines landing here in Don Mueang, and if you look at KLIA2, in one hand, you can count the number of airlines that land here.Don Mueang International Airport, outside.Comparison of Don Mueang Airport and KLIA2Malaysia is home to AirAsia, and we obviously have our own budget terminal, which is called the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2, or KLIA2 in short.With that I assumed that our budget terminal would also be on par or perhaps better than other countries. Yes, Malaysia Airports has been trying hard to make the airports world-class over the last decade. However, when you do an apple to apple comparison, we are left far behind. Even though KLIA2 launched as a modern lifestyle budget terminal, everything did not flow as how an airport should flow. With that, let me just share with you the simple process of what happens when you go to an airport to check in for your flight, comparing both airports.The distance of both airports, using Google Maps.Distance to the AirportKLIA2 - The distance from the city center to KLIA to is a whopping 58.3 kilometers, making this one of the furthest airports in Asia, if not the furthest. To drive here, it takes about 60 minutes, and sometimes up to 90 minutes one way, depending on traffic. The only good thing is that there is a train that gets you from KL Sentral to KLIA2 in 30 minutes. A Grab Car will cost you RM65.00 one way, minus toll charges. Don Mueang Airport - From the airport to Bangkok Central, it is only 23 kilometers in distance, and an average of 30 minutes drive. Grab Car only charges around 300 to 400 Baht, or you can even take the local bus and then change to the BTS for less than that. Conclusion - As KLIA2 is a beautiful airport without a proper system, it does not work in favour of the passengers. I will have to say that Don Mueang takes the prize here as the closest airport to a city.The main drop off area of KLIA2. Photo by www.klia2.infoArriving at the AirportKLIA2 - When you arrive at departure area, you will find multiple lanes, with cars always hogging the drop off areas on the out most lane. Police or authorities are hardly seen monitoring this, or often at times, they are there but not doing anything. Plus the closest lane to the airport entrance is permanently blocked off for VIPs, and often the second lane can also be closed, leaving only the third and outer lane open. When this happens, there is a congestion in the third lane during peak hours, which can be frustrating.One thing I always notice is the urgency of people that get dropped off at KLIA2. Sometimes, the entire family and neighbors want to tag along, and they spend a good ten minutes saying their goodbyes at the drop off areas.The drop off area at Don Mueang International Airport.Don Mueang Airport - The main highway runs pass the airport and turning in is hassle free. When you arrive at the terminals, there is only one main road for vehicles to drop off passengers, and it is constantly monitored by airport authorities.They are strict and no nonsense, and will chase away cars that wait there. Because of this system, there is hardly any traffic congestion here, and providing a smooth traffic flow. The terminals are also all laid out in an elongated format, so terminal one and two has their own drop off, which is part of a continuous road. Along both terminals, you will also find bus stops, taxi stops and the general car stop for dropping passengers off.The great thing about this drop off area is that people get dropped off, and the cars dropping them will move on. If they want to say long goodbyes, they will usually park at the airport parking. Conclusion - Don Mueang wins this vote due to the simple and practical airport layout and flow. This makes it easy for travellers to maneuver from the drop off to the check in counter without much walking.Authorities are extremely strict at the drop off areas in Bangkok, wherelse in KLIA2, they may or may not be there, and this is a loophole for locals taking advantage of the system.One of the check in counters at KLIA2.Check-In Counters at the AirportKLIA2 - Because of the lifestyle concept of having a mall and terminal linked together, Malaysia Airports makes passengers walk through the mall before reaching the departure terminal of KLIA2.If you have been here before, you will know that you need to walk at least half a kilometer inside before you arrive at the check in counters of the departure terminal. Malaysians being always late, tend to rush for their check in and so on, and in most cases, they are always cutting it close. This has also become a local habit for those travelling.Honestly, this concept does not work for a budget terminal, but I do not blame the airport designers for trying to be different, and in the end, it shows how passengers are always rushing to check in for their flights. This also means that you need extra time to walk from the main door of the drop off point, and I estimate around 10 minutes before you reach the departure hall, with a casual walk.There is no direct drop off to the departure hall of the airport, hence please take not of this flaw.The distance from where you get dropped off and the check in counters. Don Mueang Airport - The minute you walk into the airport door, the check in counters are located just meters from the main doors. All you need to do is find out which row your counter is and head straight there. This layout is extremely functionable, and straight to the point with no hassles or distraction. Airports of Thailand or AoT in short, has made it easy for passengers to check in once they arrive at the airport, which is what it should be.Even how busy or stressed, the Thai AirAsia staff know how to maintain a pleasant smile. The only set back I found is that due to the popularity of the airlines, come of the check in counters can get crowded. But the airlines have overcome this with fast and efficient staff that keep the momentum moving, to avoid jamming up the areas. Conclusion - Again, Don Mueang Airport gets the vote due to a simple and functionable system where after you get dropped off, you are already at the check in area, without having to walk too far.Gateway KLIA2, the main shopping mall before the airport terminal.Shops Layout at the Airport KLIA2 - Because of the KL Gateway mall being your main entry point, you can easily get distracted before checking in for your flight. There is good and bad in having this concept of a mall in an airport. Anyway, the mall is spacious, but the outlets tend to be occupied by only the big names or chains. One thing for sure is that you will not find any local small brands here, due to the excessively high rentals charged. The bad side of this is that because most travellers are always in a rush, many tend to just bypass the mall and head straight to the check in areas.When your gate is right at the end, you tend to hurry and will not stop at the retail shops along the way.Honestly, how many times have you actually stopped to look at some of the shops, and if your gate is at the other end, you just tend to worry about reaching your gate. This results in the retail shops not doing well at all.Those retail outlets nearest to the departure terminal tend to be the ones doing well, as after checking in, you can then explore the mall, provided you are not rushing. But here's the fun part - The main departure hall at KLIA2 also has some food, cafe and retail outlets, and this is rather confusing as it looks like the airport management just wants to fill the place up with retail outlets.How some of the restaurants and fast food shops are laid out conveniently.Don Mueang Airport - Somehow, I find the departure area being very straight forward, where when you first arrive, you will be greeted by the check in area. Only after checking in, you will start to see the retail lots, and this is how an airport layout should be. The whole point of going to an airport is to check in for your flight, and then only you look for retail outlets, food or drinks. Correct me if I am wrong on this part, but it has been like that for all these years, so why change the flow? Don't you think so? After the second phase of renovations, Don Mueang Airport was very well laid out for the passengers. After checking in to your flights, you get your boarding pass, and for those who do not want to shop or eat, can immediately just cross over to the passport control area without any hassle.The perfect layout  for passengers as they head to the boarding gates.And if you wanted to eat or just walk around, you could do so in this elongated terminal concept. Priority outlets get to be closer to the check in area, like the airport hospital, airport inquiry center, toilets and also prayer rooms. All other general retail outlets follow after the priority ones, and you can find them at two main levels of the airport with one of the best selections of fast food and other eateries and cafes. Conclusion - Another vote goes to Don Mueang Airport for the overall shop layout plan in the airport. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out, unless you just want to fill an airport with shops located anywhere you can find a slot.The automated passport gate for Malaysians at KLIA2. Passport Control at the Airport KLIA2 - After you have checked in, you will walk to the domestic passport or identification check, and also for the first layer of the body and bag screening. The domestic check is located at one leftmost corner of the airport. The international passport section is smack center of the departure terminal, and is not hard to miss. It is here where you will first go through the first layer of the airport police check for your boarding pass and identification. Right after this, it is straight to the immigration counter for your passport check.The kind of sign you do not want to see when you are coming home to Malaysia.For local Malaysian, there are passport gates, which are meant to make passengers go through much faster and smoother. But often at times, they passport gates may not be all fully functioning, which can create really long lines.Plus it does not help when there are no staff there to assist confused passengers. Many times that I have gone through these gates, there was no immigration staff stationed there. This led to many passengers frustrations on trying to utilize the passport gates. Non-Malaysians still need to line up at the manned counters, and usually, it this works well. But on many occasions, I noticed a lack of immigration officers manning the counters, which result is really long lines. Honestly, do I need to elaborate more on this matter?Asean lane at the immigration counters. Photo by www.chiangraitimes.comDon Mueang Airport - There are two entry points to the immigration checks for passengers, and I have to say AoT again, thought ahead for this. One point is for foreign travellers, and another entry point is for local Thai and Asean country citizens. This way, you break up the different travellers, making it an easier flow for the passengers lining up to get their passport checked. At the Asean counters, there are at least two immigration officers serving at any one time.Towards the far right of the immigration, they have the Thai passport autogate. Other country travellers will just line up at the 'Foreign Passport' counters. Here is what I found interesting. There are always AoT and immigration staff at the beginning of the lines, where they ask you where are you from, in order to smoothen out the process. And yes, they speak good English too. This way, you know which lane you are supposed to be lining up at, and it will not confuse the lines at the passport checks.Another plus point is that they have a dedicated lane just for PRC travellers, where the officer manning those counters are Mandarin speaking staff.This all makes perfect sense as it divides the majority of China travellers and the general other country travellers. I simply call this thinking ahead, and not making matters worst. Conclusion - As for a smooth immigration or passport flow, Don Mueang Airport again gets the vote for efficiency, courtesy, and most of all, friendly staff assisting passengers in this part of the airport.A security check towards Gate Q at KLIA2, this is after the first check. Security Scanning Checks at the Airport KLIA2 - Recently, the security scanning points at our local airports have gone from bad to worst, and not only KLIA2, but even at KLIA. Why I'm saying this is that there is no longer any professionalism involved among the airport police who man the stations.Often, they are seen chatting away, laughing and treating it like a casual fast food job. There have been times I notice how they treat passengers in a harsh manner, especially when the passengers do not know about the security check procedures.There are also times, I see some of them on their smartphones. Wow, how did this behaviour become part of their jobs. Often, I find that they have a very 'sempoi' or laid back attitude, versus ten years ago when there was a little more professionalism involved. Don Mueang Airport - The number of times I have been in and out of Bangkok, I never once saw the airport security personal or police joking or laughing among themselves, as they treat their job with respect and professionalism.Yes, they do talk, but they keep it to a minimal, and are constantly paying attention to the passengers that are undergoing the security checks. I think at most airports around the world, certain positions require strict professionalism, rather than a casual fun job. Conclusion - Another vote to Don Mueang Airport for their staff's professional attitude. Honestly, I find the Malaysian security personal lacking integrity and professionalism, which looks really bad for our country. I hope that something gets done about this fast. Often at times, passengers are seen rushing through the duty free to get to their gates on time. Duty Free Area at the AirportKLIA2 -  For many years, I have personally seen how our duty free products have been getting bad to worst. Correct me if I am wrong, but most passengers don't even stop at the duty free areas anymore, and maybe just to get cigarettes or liquor, and that is all.Have you wondered why? Simple, the duty free selection that we carry are pretty limited. Meaning, the choices are not on par with other international airports.For example, chocolates are one of the things that I personally avoid. Why? Because most of the chocolates have a short expiry life, and are usually sold with promotions like buy two, get one free.The duty free at KLIA2 is conveniently located as passengers have to walk through to get their luggage, and this is at the international arrival hall. But due to the poor selection, passengers rather buy duty free from the departing country than buying it from KLIA2.Well laid out duty free section in the international departure area.Don Mueang Airport - Their duty free section is conveniently located just after your screening check, and the area is huge and well lit, and inviting. Probably due to the market research on what travellers want, or what is in trend.Promoters are seen all over, and ready to attend to customers, while products are world class, with great selections, from perfumes, to liquor, to local snacks, chocolates and cigarettes. This is exactly what travellers want to see when they travel.The lively duty free section of Don Mueang Airport.Even if I am not buying anything from duty free, I will still make a detour to see what is new or what is available. Often at times, I somehow managed to buy something due to the price and wow factor. Overall, the duty free area layout is great for high traffic, as it is spacious and with many things to see. Conclusion - And another vote goes to Don Mueang Airport, mainly for the wide selection, brightly lit duty free area and a lively place with attentive staff.At KLIA2, if your gate is J22, then good luck walking there.Boarding Gates at the AirportKLIA2 - This has been a joke ever since the airport opened up, and why have gates laid out in a one kilometer long row, when only AirAsia seems to be utilizing most of the gates.Honestly, have you ever been given Gate J22? That is like the end of the airport, and they expect passengers to walk over 700 or 800 meters.Gate J layout map at KLIA2. Just look at the number of gates in one area. As for design, yes, it looks nice on paper, but for functionality sake, it does not help at all, namely if the passengers are elderly. Moreover, you really need to find which wing your gate is located, and then find your way there.The airport authorities may claim that they have a buggy service for elderly and disabled, but if you have been travelling as long as me, you will know that at times, there are no buggies available. Or you will have to wait over 20 minutes for one.Don Mueang Airport - Their gating system is well planned and extremely functional for passengers, meaning that after you exit the passport control, you are in the main boarding walk area. All you need to do is find your gate which is either left of right.An aerial view of the main departure gate system at Don Mueang AirportAt most times, when I exit the passport control and security checks, I am in the main departure area, and I just need to walk about a hundred or two hundred meters to my main gate. And once I go into that area, the gates are broken up into six or eight boarding gates.Not only that, each of the main gates have their own convenient shops or cafes, selling coffee, soft drinks, snacks and quick bites. This is what passengers want, and the best part, at affordable prices. Conclusion - In terms of easy access and convenience, Don Mueang gets the vote, and one does not really need to get lost in their system. Just look for your gate number, which is straightforward.This is just one of the many photos I took at KLIA2. Cleanliness at the AirportKLIA2 - Airport cleanliness has always been one of my top criteria whenever I visit any airport, especially if it is a modern style airport, and for KLIA2, I have to say when it first opened, it was very clean.However, over the years that I have been using the airport, I noticed that a lot of areas are neglected, and this simply shows what the airport management is doing. It is an eyesore and imagine first time visitors to Malaysia seeing the dirt and stains.Well, not only KLIA2, but even KLIA, the national airport is also similar. I mean, yes the floors are clean, but it is the walls, glass and other areas that seem to be overlooked. Is it because the airport management has cut back on the cleaners?Just take a look at the photo above, and it was taken along the walkway from the international arrival towards the main terminal building. Areas like these are visible by passing passengers, and it is such a shame to see that no one did anything about it.The best part is that I hardly see cleaners around, and if there are, they are usually the foreign contract cleaners. I have a feeling that the contract budget was cut, hence the company only provides a limited number of cleaners.An example to maintain the cleanliness of an airport on a daily basis, you require a workforce of 50 staff to do so, but with certain budget cuts or just trying to save some money, there are probably only 20 workers doing the work of 50 people.This was after I reached the baggage area of Don Mueang. It looks spotless. Don Mueang - Because Don Mueang is an old airport, the original terminal building looks old, but somehow they manage to keep it clean. But when you compare the new terminal two, it is such a modern look and feel, with bright white lights and extremely clean.Every now and then, I see cleaners pushing their cleaning carts, and often working solo and doing their work as supposed too. I tried to find fault by looking around for any areas that were dirty along  the main path that passengers use, but I was surprised that I could not find any.Conclusion - Vote to Don Mueang Airport again, and this is probably due to the airport management strict procedures of keeping an airport clean. Staff are all local, and not seen chatting or lazing, and some might conclude that there is an oversupply of local workers there.The outdoor smoking areas on both wings of KLIA2, with a great view.Smoking Room and Areas at the AirportKLIA2 - This section had to be included because I am a smoker, and there are also many smoking travellers all over the world. But for KLIA2, I am quite sad that the airport management does not view this as a passenger service or facility inside the main terminal.Outside the airport, the smoking area is found at both wings of the main terminal building, which is located outside. The area is huge, and open aired, which is also great for the view, and if it rains, you cannot utilise this area.Yes, there are only two smoking rooms located inside the airport, one at the local domestic departure hall, and one more at the international departure hall. However, good luck if you want to locate it, as it is hidden away from general view, and with little or no signs.The international departures smoking room at KLIA2 in horrible condition.Not only that, they do not have adequate signs to show where the smoking rooms are located at, and you will end up having to ask someone. When you find them, just take a look at the condition of the smoking rooms. Dirty, unhygienic, and there is not even a monitor for the flight details.For some reason, the airports in Malaysia are the worst in terms of smoking rooms. Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand all have proper smoking rooms that are clean, and with good ventilation systems. Why are we so different? If you do not want to encourage passengers to smoke, then do not sell cigarettes in the airports.The smoking rooms are conveniently places at each main gate area in Don MueangDon Mueang - The smoking rooms outside Don Mueang are clearly indicated, and one look, you will see signs pointing to where you can smoke outside the airport. They have allocated a number of area for this, and have even provided chairs to sit down.Inside the airport, there are smoking rooms at each gate, making it convenient for smokers to just pop in and have a cigarette before the flight. Yes, every main gate area has one smoking room. And the best part, the airport cleaners are constantly in and out, making sure the place is clean.Conclusion - KLIA2 does not deserve any credit to this part as for years, they have neglected the smoking rooms inside the airport, and are one of the worst in the region.They have it there for the sake of having it, but do not upkeep the rooms. So, Don Mueang gets the vote because they do care for all passengers, smokers or non-smokers.Outside the Don Mueang International AirportOverall Conclusion After writing all of the above, I have to say that Don Mueang International Airport is the clear winner in all of the categories discussed. And as a Malaysian writing this, I kind of feel a little ashamed about this.First and foremost, we are one of the emerging countries in Southeast Asia for aviation and air travel, with award winning airports and airlines, but when you look beyond those, you tend to see how we are lacking in many areas.Yes, there is so much room for improvement, but with our laid back mentality of 'if it is not broken, don't fix it', we will fall further back, and other up and coming countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos will overtake us.KLIA2 only look good in terms of architecture, but for functionality, it lacks in many ways. Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport has clearly showed how efficient and traveller friendly they are, wherelse, our KLIA2 is nothing more than just a fancy lifestyle airport that is truly not passenger friendly at all.We tend to always have a vision, but never will manage to fulfill it, and at many times, things are done half hearted, or just plain mismanagement of everything.When an issue arises, we are quick to point fingers at others, which is one of our worst traits in any business. Maybe if things cannot change, the local airports should be managed and operated by a private entity? If we never try, we will never know.I only hope that our KLIA2 airport management bucks up, and be on par with the other airports in the region, or we will never move forward, especially with our backward or laid back thinking.Over the years, I have also done a number of airport reviews, and they include STOL airports to international airports, and from Malaysia, Indonesia and even Japan.If you would like to comment about my Don Mueang Airport and KLIA2 review, please leave it below in the comment form. Again, this is a very personal review after years of being an air commuter, utilizing these two airports. 
    Friday 25th of January 2019 01:29:00 PM
  • Silabur Cave in Sarawak
    Have you heard about the Jade Caves of Sarawak? Yes, a cave that looks like it is made from jade, which is called the Silabur Cave in Serian, Sarawak. This beautiful cave has been around for a very long time, and mostly visited by researchers, but in 2016, the cave became more popular among the locals, mainly due to the beautiful jade texture of the cave walls. Silabur Cave in SarawakThis beautiful cave is found in the district of Serian, which is about 90 minutes drive from the city of Kuching in Sarawak. Currently, as I write this article, there are only one or two tour companies that bring you here, and you can also request from some of the adventure travel agents in Kuching for trips to Silabur Cave. Overall, a trip here would take you half a day to a full day, and to explore the cave area, it will take you roughly around four to five hours. The entrance of the cave is about one hour trek up the hill and located in the middle of Mount Silabur. Be prepared for a medium level hike up here.From the entrance of the cave, it will take you another 15 minutes before you reach the main cave chamber, which is called Labak Tirason.One of the photographers poses inside the cave. Photo by Paul Sarawak.What are Silabur Caves? Silabur Cave is a limestone cave that is located inside of Mount Silabur and offers vertical cliffs. From the village, it is a one hour trek to the foot of the mountain.From the foot of the mountain, you then need to trek up halfway which is roughly another hour before you reach the entrance of the cave at the mid of the mountain.These caves have been long harvested for the prized bird's nest from the local swiftlets. A local association operates and manages the caves here, where bird next harvesting takes place a couple of times a year. Most of the harvested Silabur bird nest is processed and exported to China, and very little is sold to the locals.Inside the beautiful cave at Mount SilaburWhat to do in Silabur Caves? A cave is always a cave, and there are very limited things one can do here. In most cases, those who are into caving or cave exploration will find this place quite fascinating.Probably due to the overall jade coloring inside the cave, it gives a beautiful color tone versus the general dark grey colors. Some people have actually gone into the cave to do some photography and then shared the images on social platforms, which has now created interest among the locals around Kuching and also Sarawak. The top of Mount Silabur is a peak called Sky-Park which is about 400 meters, where most visitors will also trek or climb up to this peak. The view is not too bad at Sky-Park and is recommended for outdoor lovers. Nearby, there is another underwater cave called Siturib Cave, where clear cave waters are waist or chest high. You need local guides for both of these places. Read at the end for more info. Overall, I will list down a number of things that you can so at Silabur Caves as below;Trekking and hiking up to the Silabur caveSpot birds nest inside the cavePhotography shoot, Instagram and Facebook shootTrek up to the peak of Mount Silabur called Sky-ParkExplore the Siturib Underwater Cave hereSimply visiting to tick this place off your cave bucket list View this post on Instagram A post shared by Alena Murang (@alenamurang) on Jan 4, 2019 at 5:48pm PSTAlena Murang Singing At Silabur CavesA famous Sarawakian female sape artist called Alena Murang has also created a short video of herself singing inside the Silabur Caves, which has been viewed over 1,400 times. Alena Murang is part Kelabit and is one of the up and coming Sarawakian sape musicians that has created an interest among today's music lifestyle. She has performed all over the world, and her video in the Silabur cave has also created a lot of interest from the locals about the location.A group of cavers climbing the wooden stairs inside the caveSilabur Cave LegendAlong with many other caves in Sarawak, there are always folk legends connected to these places, and some of them are pretty interesting to know. In Silabur Cave, the legend revolves around the Bidayuh people, the harvest festival and the culture, and you can read below;The Gua Silabur LegendA long time ago, the local Bidayuh people here celebrated the harvest festival once every year. On one harvest festive celebration night, there was an old man who lived in the village. The old man has one grandchild who stays together with him. For the kids parents are nowhere to be found after they went out for food, some say they were killed by the head hunters, and some say they were eaten by animals.On that festive celebration night, the old man was eating Kasam Ikan (a local delicacy where they marinade the raw fish with rice and salt, put it in a tight jar, leave it in a dark corner for a month or so and eat it), but one of the village people mixed the fish with the rubber tree fruits to play a joke with the old man. The old man eventually ate the rubber fruits, and got laughed by the village people. And the old man then called his dog, and he tied a bell on the leg of the dog, and asked the dog to bark at the village people.The dog starts chasing after them, and due to the bell, the old man will know the where his dog is from the sound. But all of a sudden the sound of the bell is gone, complete silence. The old man keeps on calling the dog to come back, but it never returned. The old man cried, and while was crying, it started to rain, and a weird thing happened where it rained rocks instead of water drops. The rain became heavier, and soon when they knew it, the rocks had then formed the mountain, and also the cave. Photos of Silabur CaveBelow are some beautiful photos of Silabur Caves, taken by Paul Sarawak and his group, when they visited in August of 2017. The photography skills of this team are awesome, and you can see from the photos why. Have a look at them, and tell me you do not want to visit these caves? If you plan to do so, read the end of the article where details on how to go there and so on are shared. Light falls through the cave ceiling onto the floor. Photo by Paul Sarawak.Photo of the cave mouth. Photo by Paul Sarawak.Interesting cave formations inside. Photo by Paul Sarawak.A cave sits for some cave photography. Photo by Paul Sarawak.The beautiful combination of cave flora and lights. Photo by Paul Sarawak.A cave pose by the Jade Cave. Photo by Paul Sarawak.The light shines through openings in the cave ceiling. Photo Paul Sarawak. All photos are from the Paul Sarawak and team Facebook Page unless stated under the photos.Where are Silabur Caves? Gua Silabur is located just out of Kuching City, in the district of Serian, and is located near the town of Tebakang.It is about 90 kilometers from Kuching, but because of the small roads to get here, it will take you around two hours drive one way. The caves are also located close to the Kalimantan border, which is only about five kilometers distance. This part of Kalimantan Indonesia is known as the Sanggau Regency of West Kalimantan. The closest Malaysia-Indonesia checkpoint to Silabur Cave is the Tebedu Immigration Complex, which is also a popular place for both countries. At the entrance of the Siturib Cave, which is a water cave. Photo from Silabur Facebook Page. Siturib Cave or Gua SituribFor those into some serious adventure caving, there is also another cave in the area which is called Siturib Cave or Gua Siturib. This is a water cave, where you need the local guides to bring you in the waist or even chest-deep waters. Anyone going into the Siturib Cave will guarantee to get wet, so come prepared for this. You should also arrange this with your cave guide, who will be the locals from the village area. They know the caves by the back of their hands, which is vital to anyone entering this water cave. Aerial view of Sky-Park on top of Mount Silabur. Photo from Silabur Facebook Page. Sky-Park, Peak of Mount SilaburThis is the top of the mountain, where many visitors will also trek or climb up since they are here. A trek up to Sky-Park will take you about three hours, and is a medium level trekking. For those interested in doing this, you must engage the local Silabur guides, as they know the place inside out.The thrill about the trek up Mount Silabur is enjoying the amazing view of the area from the peak here. Usually, it would be better to start with the trek up, and then visit the caves.However, you can ask your local guides about this, and which is easier done. If you plan to do both trekking and caving, then you will require a full day here.How to go to Silabur Caves? If you are in Kuching, you can ask some of the travel agents in town, as they would know who organize trips to Silabur Caves. For those who plan to explore by themselves, you can easily drive to Silabur Cave on your own, with your friends. Please do not go by yourself, as visiting caves is best done in a small group. The best way to go to Silabur Cave for travelers is to rent a car and self-drive there. There are directions on Google Maps which make your drive here easy.Once you reach here, you can contact the local Silabur Cave Association to make arrangements. The contact is below in a photo.Driving directions to Silabur Cave from Google Maps. Driving Directions to Silabur Cave or Gua SilaburFirst, you need to head to Serian town from Kuching, which is about 90 minutes drive with mild traffic. I would recommend using Google Maps or Waze to do this. After you reach Serian, head to Tebakang town, which is another 15-minute drive. From the main Jalan Serian-Tebedu, you need to turn off at Kampung Tebakang. Here, there are two villages, known as Kampung Tebakang Dayak, and Kampung Tebakang Melayu, which are located one after the other.Once you enter this village, you need to drive about 20 minutes until you reach Lampung Lobang Batu, and then look out for SK Lobang Batu, then look for a sign that turns right into the Gua Silabur or Silabur Cave.After you turn into that road, head towards Kampung Batu Lin and Batu Mawang, which is about 1.5 km inside. Batu Lin is also a Bidayuh village, and there are signboards showing the village name.Do ask for directions if you are unsure as the locals are very helpful in this part of Sarawak.The contact persons for anyone who wants to explore Silabur Caves in Serian.Additional Information For Silabur CavesThere is an entrance fee of RM10.00 per person paid at the foot of Mount Silabur, to the Silabur Association. The cave is also managed by the local Silabur Birdnest Operator Association.Local tour guides for the caves are available at RM50.00.The main office to do your booking is in the village closest to the caves. There is a small office there, and you can ask the locals when you are there. I would recommend you contact them from the numbers above to make an appointment. Posing in the light of the caves. Photo by Paul Sarawak.ConclusionIf you have a thing for caves and is visiting Kuching in Sarawak, I would make the Silabur cave a place to explore and visit, as it is not too far from Kuching City. You will most likely do a morning trip here and be back in Kuching after lunch, hence it is less than half a day to spend. However, if you are heading here for some photography, make sure you come prepared, and just like any other cave in Sarawak, one should always be cautious when walking in the caves.Take a look at some of the other caves in Sarawak and Sabah, which I wrote about many years ago if you are interested in visiting the others.I write this article about the Silabur Caves in Serian, based on the Visit Sarawak Campaign, which is in 2019, and the objective is to promote the other places of Sarawak, with a tagline of Sarawak More To Discover. 
    Friday 11th of January 2019 09:33:00 AM
  • DRT Malaysia 2019 Expo
    The DRT Malaysia dive expo is back for the second time and this scuba diving expo is being held at the Putra World Trade Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This year's DRT Malaysia 2019 show will take place from the 15th to 17th February, and is the 30th DRT regional show.For this year's Malaysian dive show, a total of 150 vendors will be participating to showcase their products while many other activities are lined up.Press conference during the official launch of DRT Malaysia 2018Dive Resort Travel Malaysia Show 2019First of all, if you are new to this, the DRT stands for Dive and Resort Travel Expo, which puts focus on scuba diving, conservation and introduction of scuba related products. Participants include scuba diving operators, resellers, retailers, dive resorts, dive operators, NGOs, tourism boards and many more. The DRT dive expo is also branded as a B2B or business-to-business networking session where local and international related businesses can connect.International vendors at the last DRT MalaysiaWhile the main target is to provide a platform for scuba divers to discover new products and also learn about diving around Malaysia and even Asia, there is also an emphasis on scuba conservation and other kinds of conservation efforts. If you are an avid new scuba diver from Malaysia, then this is one scuba diving show that you should be attending, as there is much to see, do and learn.After all, there are only two dive shows in Malaysia, and DRT is one of the big players that have entered the market here in Malaysia.Department of Tourism Philippines at the last dive expo in Kuala LumpurWhat to Expect at DRT Malaysia Show 2019? While this is the second DRT show in Malaysia, a number of people are looking forward to the second show this year, and to see what will be offered. After the inaugural DRT Malaysia 2018 show, many were unaware of this expo, probably due to the timing, and also lack of marketing.But this time around, the organizers have been quite busy with promotions since the last event, with a focus on social media, online branding and also through word of mouth.  One of the local vendors at DRT Malaysia 2018Generally, the consumer or visitor can expect retailers and vendors selling all items related to scuba diving, free diving, and underwater photography.There will be vendors who specialize in specific underwater niche products, namely for the latest scuba gear and also the latest gadgets for underwater photography. This means that if you are a new scuba diver, this would be a great place to visit, as you will be introduced to new diving equipment and so on. While Malaysian divers love the all black look and feel for their dive equipment and gear, there are also some that prefer to have color themed equipment, and at DRT Malaysia show, you can find a lot of these being sold.Some retailers even go the extra mile to combine complete sets in colors like pink, yellow, blue and so on.One of the underwater camera rigs on display during DRT MalaysiaUnderwater photographers will also be happy to know that most of the latest camera and equipment will be on display, and also sold during the DRT show here. The great part about attending dive expos like this is that you can talk to the retailer or vendor about product knowledge, and also get tips and tricks about the underwater cameras and equipment.For the DRT Malaysia 2019 show, the organizers will be adding a new section called Ocean Market, which is a specialized bazaar with an ocean theme.A vendor selling handmade underwater charms made from stainless steelSpecially selected vendors will be selling handmade ocean-themed crafts or selling ready-made similar theme items during the dive expo. There will also be a "Be An Ocean Saver Project" where a total of 6 NGOs will be involved in this project, and you can also find out more from attending the dive expo.For photography lovers, there is also the 100 Star underwater photo gallery, which will be on display during the dive expo. This is open to the public for viewing.One of the underwater photos being displayed at the last DRT Malaysia expoConservation and Environmental Organisations at DRT Malaysia ShowSince the first DRT Malaysia show, the organizers have provided a specially dedicated area for any conservation and environmental organization from Malaysia, and for free. This is part of the CSR commitment from DRT, in order to provide a larger area for underwater and related conservation efforts by the various NGOs in Malaysia. While you attend the dive expo here, you can also take some time to go and learn about the conservation efforts done by these NGOs.Some of them even provide knowledge-based games, where you can participate, and walk away with various gifts.Some of the interesting underwater lights for various setupsTo me conservation awareness is important in today's lifestyle, with all the global warming and climate changes taking place, it is paramount that we take note of what is happening, and what better way than through events like this.In total, there will be seven NGOs participating in this year Malaysia DRT Show, and they will be in a special area in the expo. One of them will be Reef Check Malaysia.All kinds of scuba diving equipment sold at the dive expoWho Are the Speakers at DRT Malaysia? As at any DRT dive show, there are always speakers who will talk about their experiences, share valuable knowledge, tips and information about dive locations, and also provide underwater photography sharing. This segment of talks at the DRT show is much needed in order for the experienced speakers to share their knowledge with the new scuba divers, or even the seasoned divers. For DRT Malaysia 2019, the speakers are;A.B Lee from MalaysiaPartick Ong from MalaysiaKenji Chow from MalaysiaIpah Uid from MalaysiaLilian Koh from SingaporeLee Kian Lie from MalaysiaJulian Hyde from the United KingdomPaul Sack from MalaysiaStacy Chee from MalaysiaNicholas Attenborough from MalaysiaAzhar Hussin from Malaysia Azua Shafii from MalaysiaEmily Yong from BruneiPhilip Lim from MalaysiaFor those interested, you can visit the DRT Malaysia website for the complete profile and information on the list of speakers for 2019. A visitor to DRT Malaysia taking a photoAsia Pacific Underwater Photo Challenge 2019 This is known as one of the most prestigious underwater photography competitions in the Asia Pacific and is also known as the UWPC. The contest is open for three months from 10th October 2018 to 10th January 2019. The Underwater Photo Challenge 2019 is open to all classes of photographers, meaning anyone can submit their work if they think it is suitable to be entered. All finalists are judged by world-class and award-winning photographers, and prizes include cash, live abroad packages, dive gear and also underwater photography gear. When you attend DRT Malaysia, you will see all the selected underwater photographs being displayed at a  special area, and let me just say that some of them are out of this world.Some of the matching scuba diving equipment sold in complete setsWho is DRT? DRT or Drive, Travel Resort is the largest diving, resort and travel expo in Asia, and has been around for many years. They also operate similar shows in various countries around Asia and have a total of over 100,000 registered members. Cities, where DRT shows are held, include Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Malaysia, Philippines, India, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Singapore. DRT is also supported by many international diving associations, federations, and scuba diving clubs. The organization is also in partnership with over 30 international media publications. DRT Malaysia 2019 ShowDate: 15 to 17 February 2019Venue: Hall 3, Putra World Trade Center, Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaTime: 11.00 AM to 8.00 PM, and 6.00 PM on the last dayWebsite: DRT MalaysiaDRT Malaysia Tickets/Entrance FeeEntrance fee: RM10.00Certified divers, seniors above 60 years old: RM5.00Disabled and children who are under 130cm high: Free EntranceVisitors checking out some of the vendors at DRT MalaysiaConclusionIf you are a new scuba diver in Malaysia, this is one show that you should not miss. Just like any other scuba diving expos in Malaysia, the objective is to provide alternative platforms for consumers. As a seasoned diver, you may have conflicting views, but then again, having more dive shows in Malaysia opens up the possibility for the hobby or sport to grow. Dive tourism in Malaysia has increased over the last decade, and it is thanks to multiple dive expos like the DRT Malaysia show, which creates awareness among the community and public. 
    Friday 4th of January 2019 11:38:00 AM
  • Top Instagrammable Places in Kuala Lumpur - Ultimate Guide
    For those who love getting the best Instagram shot when traveling, here is a list of the top Instagrammable places in Kuala Lumpur which is also an ultimate guide. Most of these Instagrammable places are easy to get to and require little traveling as they are found in the main city area of Kuala Lumpur or KL as it is commonly called. However, just out of KL, you may be able to find some pretty Instagrammable places to explore and be slightly different from the other posts that you see.Top Instagrammable Places In Kuala LumpurI hate to say this, but there are many articles that share the Top 10 Most Instagrammable Spots and Places in Kuala Lumpur and so on, but everyone just shares the same IG images with very little information.This means that there are many who just want to rank for the keyword, and have forgotten about making it easy for people who want information on how to get there and the best times.This article was done with personal experience, meaning that I have visited all of these places to know the logistics, distance and other vital information which can save you lots of time. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Colours?/Soul?/Travel?? (@coloursandsouloftravel) on Dec 28, 2018 at 8:29am PSTIn this article, I will list down the most popular places in Kuala Lumpur to take your Instagram photos, and when you are there, it is entirely up to you how you want to do it.If you notice, I am using mostly common Instagram accounts to be featured, versus some Influencer who has bought engagement and followers, which is very cliche.Let us explore Top Instagrammable Places in Kuala Lumpur below;  View this post on Instagram A post shared by ILLEGNA (@lovebabs17) on Oct 23, 2018 at 1:12am PDT1. Petronas Twin TowersThis is probably the most Instagrammed place in Kuala Lumpur, and the great thing about the twin towers is that you can take your photo from just about any direction.The most popular angle is from the foot of the Petronas Twin Towers from the northwest area as there is a lot of open space, and not crowded. But, you can walk around and explore the angles you prefer, namely from the KLCC Park area or even from the junctions of Jalan Ampang and Jalan P.Ramlee.To avoid being photobombed, come early to get your shot, otherwise, find a location with less people around and avoid areas where the tour buses unload Chinese tourists.How To Get Here: The Petronas Twin Towers is located in the Kuala Lumpur City Center and is the most central part of Kuala Lumpur. Just look up for the twin towers and follow the direction. From Chinatown, it takes about 20 minutes to walk to get here.Best Time To Visit: Strongly recommended to visit in the mornings around 9 to 10 AM, and hope no one is there yet. Otherwise, head here on a weekday, but avoid the afternoons as it tends to get hot or even sudden showers. Before you go, check the sky to see if it is a good day too.Other Information: Open all day, and the KLCC vicinity area is free to walk around. You only need to pay if you want to go up to the sky bridge. Or if you visit Marini's on 57, you can get a beautiful shot from this restaurant on the 57th floor of the adjoining building.  View this post on Instagram A post shared by BACKPACKERS IN THE WORLD ? (@backpackersintheworld) on Oct 16, 2018 at 4:32am PDT2. Batu Caves With the newly revamped rainbow colors splashed on the 272 steps up to the cave temple, many people are now heading here to get that epic shot of Batu Caves. The Batu Caves committee did a massive makeover in August 2018, and the rainbow staircase was completed by the end of August 2018.Currently, a temple at the side of the entrance is also completed, which provides additional colors to the entire place, and during Thaipusam in the month of January, this place will be simply amazing.Batu Caves is a place of worship, and you are required to dress appropriately when you are here, so please take note of this. Flowy and colorful dresses would be great for photos on the rainbow stairs.How To Get Here: Batu Caves is located in the state of Selangor, which is just bordering Kuala Lumpur. From KL Sentral, take the Batu Caves Komuter Train to the Batu Caves Temple. The journey is 30 minutes one way, and trains are every 15 minutes.It is also recommended to take a ride-hailing service from the city as it only cost around RM10 to RM15 one way, and there are many cars available.Best Time To Visit: Strongly recommended to visit in the mornings around 8 to 10 AM, before the main tourist arrives after 10.00 AM. The weather is also the best, and if you come here after 11.00 AM, prepare for a hot and humid experience, if it does not rain.Other Information: Open all day, but best to come during the business hours. Watch out for the monkeys here as they tend to grab anything that resembles food or drinks, and do not try to touch them.  View this post on Instagram A post shared by Sabrina Anna Sprenger (@sapril_as) on Oct 17, 2018 at 9:12am PDT3. Sky Box at KL TowerThis special glass box that protrudes out from the top of the KL Tower is another of the popular places for Instagrammable photos in KL. This place is not recommended for the faint hearted as it can be quite scary, but rest assured, the entire concept of the KL Sky Box is safe.Many visitors come here dressed casually, but for your Instagram photo, it is best to bring a nice change of clothes for the beautiful contrast.Also, they have an official photographer at the Sky Box, but you are allowed to take your own photos as well, so, do not be misled into thinking that you cannot. How To Get Here: The KL Tower Sky Box is located at the top of the KL Tower at Bukit Nanas. It is also a 20 to 30-minute walk from Bukit Bintang or even the KLCC Area. Use Waze for walking to get here too. Best Time To Visit: Strongly recommended to visit in the mornings around 9 to 10 AM as the weather is best around this time. Try to avoid the afternoons as it tends to get hot or even experience sudden showers. Before you go, check the sky to see if it is a good day too. Other Information: Opens from 9.00 AM to 10.00 PM and entrance is RM71 for MyKad holders, and RM99 for non-Malaysians. Take note that no personal bags briefcases, laptop bags, or backpacks are permitted in the sky deck area.  View this post on Instagram A post shared by Before Honeymoon (@before_honeymoon) on Sep 3, 2018 at 6:24am PDT4. KL Forest Eco Park Canopy WalkThe recently opened KL Forest Eco Park offers a rainforest in the heart of Kuala Lumpur and is probably the smallest forest reserve in Malaysia.In this forest reserve, there is a beautiful canopy walk that gives a fantastic and unique Instagram photo of Kuala Lumpur, versus the commercialized man-made structures and towers.The canopy walk is about 200 meters long and 21 meters above ground, but there is one spot where everyone wants to get the Instagram shot where you see the canopy walk, trees and a bit of the KL skyline. How To Get Here: The KL Forest Eco Park is located just by the Bukit Nanas Monorail Station or the Dang Wangi LRT Station. It is also a 20 to 30-minute walk from Bukit Bintang or even the KLCC Area. Use Waze for walking to get here too. Best Time To Visit: Strongly recommended to visit in the mornings around 8 to 9 AM, and hope no one is there yet. Otherwise, head here on a weekday, but avoid the afternoons as it tends to get hot or even sudden showers. Before you go, check the sky to see if it is a good day too. Other Information: Opens from 7.00 AM to 8.00 PM and entrance is free at the moment of writing this article.  View this post on Instagram A post shared by ESSENCE OF ASIA (@eoa_concierge) on Oct 7, 2018 at 8:53pm PDT5. Petronas Twin Tower View From One Of The Hotel PoolsIf you are staying in Kuala Lumpur on a better budget, I recommend getting one of the hotels or residences that surround the Petronas Twin Towers or KLCC area.The photo above is taken from the all-new Banyan Tree in Kuala Lumpur, which offers a fantastic opportunity for the perfect Instagram shot in Kuala Lumpur.This is one way of getting one of the most unique Instagram photos when you are in KL, and just by staying at one of these places with an amazing view of the city center. How To Get Here: The hotels are mostly surrounding the Petronas Twin Towers, hence they are in the core area of Kuala Lumpur. Best Time To Visit: Anytime if you are staying at any of the hotels that face the KLCC. Other Information: Depending on which hotel, serviced apartment or AirBnB you book, make sure you get the unit facing the Petronas Twin Towers. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Núria Pedrós ? (@nuriaalos) on Oct 21, 2018 at 7:22am PDT6. Tian Hou TempleThis has to be one of the grandest and most beautiful temples in Kuala Lumpur, and Tian Hou Temple is located just out of the main city area. Tian Hou Temple has been one of the lesser visited places, due to its location, but upon arriving here, you will easily be amazed at how large this Buddhist temple is. In general, you can spend up to two hours exploring this place.Come on weekdays as there are less people, and at the lower level of the temple, there are shops selling vegetarian food, drinks, and souvenirs. On weekends, it tends to get a little crowded, and often you will see local couples doing wedding photography here. How To Get Here: Tian Hou Temple is about 20 minutes walk from Jalan Petaling or Chinatown, and you need to walk along the Federal Highway to get there. But seriously, I would recommend you take a taxi or Grab, as it will take you no more than 10 minutes.  Best Time To Visit: I would say go in the mornings, because the weather is much better before noon, and you get the beautiful blue skies with white clouds. Also, go on a weekday to avoid crowds. Other Information: Opens from 7.00 AM to 7.00 PM and entrance is free.A tourist taking a selfie at Batu Caves early in 2018, before the rainbow steps were painted View this post on Instagram A post shared by YS (@shintarialiao) on Dec 27, 2018 at 3:22am PSTOther Instagram Spots in KLWhile there are many other Instagrammable places around Kuala Lumpur which may not be listed here, it is entirely up to you to discover them.If you think that some other Instagrammable places around KL should be included in this list, please do let me know in the comment form below.Just remember, for the most epic Instagram shot, a contrast of clothing attire is a must, namely for the female travelers and you may want to do some research before bringing your change of clothes. View this post on Instagram A post shared by HOMESTAY 5-STAR KL ? (@khazeesuites) on Dec 28, 2018 at 11:21pm PSTFinal Thoughts on the Top Instagrammable Places in Kuala LumpurFor anyone who went through this post for the best Instagrammable places in Kuala Lumpur, I do hope that you have got all the shots you need.If you are active on Instagram and want to see more beautiful places from around Malaysia, feel free to also follow my MalaysiaAsia Instagram account.I hope you enjoyed this article and if you did, please do share this on your social media. Happy travels, and welcome to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. 
    Saturday 29th of December 2018 09:56:00 AM
  • Borneo Bird Festival 2018 Event Review
    This year, the 10th Borneo Bird Festival took place in its inaugural homeground at the Rainforest Discovery Center or RDC in Sepilok, Sandakan. This is also in the east coast part of Sabah Borneo. Being one of the most influential bird watching events held in Malaysia, this festival sees a beautiful balance among nature, conservation and most importantly education. Never before has a yearly bird festival take the initiative to promote bird conservation and awareness on such a large scale, and the Borneo Bird Festival is one to do it.Entrance to the Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sepilok, SandakanReview Of The Borneo Bird Festival 2018Created purely by bird watchers for bird lovers, this unique festival was conceptualized by the Sandakan Borneo Bird Club back in 2008.Originally, with the influence of the bird club and its members, the word spread around to what it has become today. This year, the bird festival saw over 2000 participants and visitors attending, with fringe events, conservation talks and a variety of vendors.The overall atmosphere of the event was more curiosity that a general event as visitors were keen to see and learn about birds and bird watching.This year around the festival saw industry players from the tour agencies, nature resorts, optics, cameras and NGOs participating.Datuk Rosmadi Datu Sulai giving his speech on behalf of Datuk Christina LiewOfficial Opening And SpeechThe official opening of the event was launched by YB Datuk Rosmadi Datu Sulai, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah.Originally, YB Datuk Christina Liew, who is the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment for Sabah, but due to unfortunate circumstances, she was unable to attend this event.In his speech, he clearly wanted Sabah to be a leader in the bird watching industry. This was made into a mission for the Borneo Bird Club President Gary Albert.Bird watching is a lucrative business where it is bringing in quality visitors who will not stinge on services and accommodation.This was also compared to the general commercial tourism in terms of tourism revenue or tourism spending in Sabah.Guest during the launching of the Borneo Bird Festival 2018 at RDC in SandakanDatuk Rosmadi also put it as a comparison with golf tourism, where golfers will fly in for at least five days to play some of the unique golf courses in Sabah.He mentioned that if the golfers could do that, why not promote bird watching in Sabah on a similar level.The opening ceremony was closed with a launching of a new bird book on Borneo by Wong Tsu Shi, with Datuk Rosmadi.Some of the trails where the bir race is conductedBird Race And Bird Photography CompetitionThis years bird race saw 12 teams participating in a two day race to spot the most number of birds around the Rainforest Discovery Center. In the end, the winning team was spotted a record breaking number of 120 birds.For the bird photography contest, a total of 40 entrants were collected a year before the actual festival date, and it was judged on the final day of the festival.Sanjit giving his talk about merging Arts and ScienceTalks At The Borneo Bird Festival As usual, every year, a number of reputable speakers will be invited to give their 30 minute talks which cover conservation, bird migration, bird tourism and also about birding in other countries.Speakers came from as far as Cambodia and even Kuala Lumpur to share their expertise on the various subjects including strong focus on nature conservation.The Borneo Bird Run 2018 winners Borneo Bird Run A special bird themed marathon that is in the third year was one of the general public highlight on Sunday where over 500 participants from around Sandakan turned up for the Borneo Bird Run.The event is a fun run which takes runners through the inner roads of Sepilok, and through the nature trails of the RDC before finishing at the event grounds.One of the marathon winners was also celebrating his birthday on the same day.Some of the runners came dressed with the bird theme as it was purely a fun run, and everyone finished the run, to collect the marathon medal.Photos at the Borneo Bird Festival 2018Below are some random photos taken during the two day bird watching event here in Sandakan, Sabah. Photos were all taken using my Oppo R9s Smartphone.The opening performance for the Borneo Bird Festival 2018Main registration section for the festivalThe food and drink vendors at the event in RDC, SandakanA Zumba session taking place at the festivalDatuk Rosmadi checking out the Birds of Borneo book by Wong Tsu Shi during the launchCambodia birding group at their booth during the festivalOne of the NGO booths during the Borneo Bird FestivalTaking a selfie moment with Mr Henry Goh of Malaysia Nature Society and Bird Life InternationalThe amazing bird watchers and bird guides of Sabah BorneoConclusionWith the success of this event being fully managed by the Sandakan Borneo Bird Club, this years event saw a slight rise in new bird watchers, naturalist and also conservationist that attended the event.Having being managed independently, this is truly one of the best homegrown events that take place in Sandakan and known as the Borneo Bird Festival.For the next event, the Borneo Bird Festival 2019 will most likely take place in the city of Tawau, which is further southeast of Sabah Borneo. 
    Friday 28th of December 2018 10:17:00 AM


Malaysia Asia Stats

Daily Unique PVs Total PVs Unique In Total In Unique Out Total Out
Average 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.0 2.9 2.9
Today 0 0 0 0 1 1
Yesterday 0 0 0 0 3 3
November 15 1 1 0 0 3 3
November 14 0 0 0 0 5 5
November 13 1 1 0 0 4 4
November 12 0 0 0 0 2 2
November 11 0 0 0 0 4 4
November 10 0 0 0 0 1 1
November 09 0 0 0 0 3 3
November 08 0 0 0 0 3 3
Highest 5 5 0 0 6 64
Weekly Unique PVs Total PVs Unique In Total In Unique Out Total Out
Average 1.2 1.2 0.0 0.0 15.9 15.9
This Week 2 2 0 0 22 22
Last Week 0 0 0 0 14 14
Week 44 1 1 0 0 17 17
Week 43 1 1 0 0 15 15
Week 42 2 2 0 0 14 14
Week 41 1 1 0 0 15 15
Week 40 0 0 0 0 13 13
Week 39 4 4 0 0 18 18
Week 38 0 0 0 0 15 15
Week 37 1 1 0 0 16 16
Highest 10 10 0 0 22 66
Monthly Unique PVs Total PVs Unique In Total In Unique Out Total Out
Average 4.6 4.6 0.0 0.0 57.2 57.5
This Month 3 3 0 0 41 41
Last Month 4 4 0 0 68 68
September 19 7 7 0 0 72 72
August 19 6 6 0 0 68 68
July 19 5 5 0 0 67 68
June 19 5 5 0 0 65 65
May 19 6 6 0 0 61 62
April 19 3 3 0 0 51 52
March 19 4 4 0 0 70 70
February 19 3 3 0 0 9 9
Highest 21 22 0 0 72 72
Unique PVs Total PVs Unique In Total In Unique Out Total Out
Overall 674 703 0 0 957 1,080

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