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- 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.Royal 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.Complete Guide to Royal Floria PutrajayaThis 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 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 VIP's and other dignitaries.Below 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 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 May 2015, and at the Royal Garden of Negeri Sembilan. A large Floria sign 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 the 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 year 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 colours 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 organisers, and till today, Royal Floria has become of 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 nice 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 the 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 at Royal Floria in Putrajaya.Every year, we see new countries participating, and in 2018, Korea had also participated for 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 as 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 highlight 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 changes 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 contest 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 are 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 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 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 was held at Precinct 2 of Putrajaya, and after negotiations over the years, the organisers 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 at. 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 service 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 service 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 at.Most of these hotel are in the 3 to 5 star ratings, and offers 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 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 or 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/Organiser, 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 ThoughtsEver year, Royal Floria takes place at Anjung Floria in Putrajaya, and when there is no event, the place is open to 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: firstname.lastname@example.orgFinal 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
- 10 Natural Wonders Of Malaysia
For travellers who are seeking an original tourism experience, I have come up with a list of 10 natural wonders of Malaysia that is undeniably beautiful. This list was created personally by me, and now being recommended to anyone who wants to experience the best natural tourism destinations in Malaysia. These natural wonders are not man made, but purely nature made, so places like Cameron Highlands Tea Plantations or even Putrajaya and others do not qualify in this list.10 Natural Wonders Of MalaysiaAbraham Lincoln silhouette at Mulu National Park in Sarawak1. Mulu National Park in SarawakThis famous national park in Sarawak is probably the one place where you can find the most number of natural wonders in Malaysia. Established in 1974, the massive park covers an area of 526 square kilometers.Visitors come here to experience the Deer Cave, which is the largest cave passage in the world and where you can see the silhouette of Abraham Lincoln from an angle, from inside the cave.In the late afternoons, visitors head just outside the cave to watch millions of bats take flight out of the caves. Truly a sight to see and one of the best natural experiences in Malaysia.Inside the massive deer caveThe Mulu National Park also offers the famous limestone pinnacles of Mount Api. Though it is beautiful, but in reality, visitors need to trek there and back in three days. It is not a commercial tourist spot where you can see in half a day. To Get Here: Fly in via MasWings from Miri and Kuching in Sarawak, and also from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. Ultimate Experience: Take the traditional way of long boat from Marudi to Mulu, a seven hour journey via the river.The exterior of Batu Caves in 2018, but the highlight is inside the cave temple2. Batu Caves in SelangorThis is no doubt one of the best natural attractions nearest to Kuala Lumpur, and considering that the facade is man made, it is the interior of the cave temple that is fascinating that made it into this list. Batu Caves dates back to the late 1800's when it was discovered by British explorers, and a temple was built up in the caves for worship. Over the last century, Batu Caves has become one of the most iconic natural destinations in Malaysia.In 2018, a massive makeover was conducted where the committee had undergone a beautification for the exterior of the caves, which is what you see in the photo above. However, the natural beauty lies inside the cave temple area.To Get Here - From Kuala Lumpur, it is only a 30 minute drive to Batu Caves via taxi or Grab. Alternatively, you can take the Kommuter Train from KL Sentral which stops at the Batu Caves Station. Best to do this in the mornings before lunch time. Ultimate Experience - Visiting Batu Caves during the Thaipusam Festival, and it is normally at the end of January. Over one million people will visit, with rituals and vows being performed at the foot of the cave temple.The Horse Rock at Tusan Beach3. Tusan Cliff Horse Rock in Miri, SarawakRelatively unknown to many, Tusan Beach in Miri, Sarawak is one of the hidden gems of Malaysia, and you can find a very unique horse shaped cliff with a beautiful arch here. This location is called the Horse Rock of Tusan Beach, and is slowly getting recognition from travelers as a place for photography. Many come here in the wee hours of the morning to capture the beautiful sunrise with the horse rock.If you are headed to this part of Sarawak, here is a list of what to do in Miri, if you want to stay for a few days. To Get Here - From Miri City, it is a 45 minute drive to Tusan Cliff. Best to rent a car and do your own trip, so you can take your own time. Ultimate Experience - Take a Miri Photography Tour from one of the local companies where Tusan Cliff is one of the locations.Mount Kinabalu view seen from the Kinabalu Park entrance area4. Mount Kinabalu in SabahKnown as the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia, many come here to climb Mount Kinabalu for achievement sake, but if you are not a mountain climber, you can still visit the Kinabalu National Park, which is just two hours drive from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah.The national park here is totally worth the trip as the weather is cooling, and there are a lot of short trails for you to explore. Overall, this is probably one of the top three things you can do around Kota Kinabalu.For those planning to explore around KK city, read my list of free things you can do in Kota Kinabalu if you are on a budget. To Get Here - Anyone can self drive from Kota Kinabalu by renting a car, or you can just book one of the Kinabalu day trip tours from KK City. You can also do this in a day trip and be back in KK City for dinner. Ultimate Experience - Do the Mount Kinabalu climb, which takes you around two days, and then relax by staying at the national park for an additional day.The stunning pinnacles of the Mulu National Park5. Pinnacles at Mulu National Park in SarawakNot your regular trek, the Pinnacles of Mulu is a natural formation that attract serious trekkers and hikers. This beautiful spot is located in the Mulu National Park in Sarawak and requires a three day trip to experience it. To Get Here - First, you need to get to the Mulu National Park, and then from there, your three day trek begins. Around the national park, there are homestays, basic accommodations and even the Mulu Marriott Resort. Ultimate Experience - The ultimate is to trek there during the dry season which is from March till October, and then spend another two days in Mulu National Park to explore the caves.Magnificent Sipadan Island seen from a boat6. Sipadan Island in SabahFor any scuba diver, this is truly the mecca of diving and is one of the must dive spots in the world. Any scuba diver heading to this part of the world will sure make a stop here, just to have this place ticked off their diving bucket list. Sipadan is also listed as one of the Top 3 dive spots in the world, and was made famous by legendary diver Jacques Cousteau. I would also like to share that personally, I have dived here at least 6 times to date. Sipadan Island is only accessible by special entry permit, and this means you cannot just take a boat there as and when you like. You need to pre-book your slot to dive at Sipadan.There are 120 daily permits for visitors, that are arranged by various dive operators in Mabul and Semporna. To dive at Sipadan Island, it can cost you easily about RM1000.00 for three dives and boat transfers.Scuba diving with a school of barracuda's at Sipadan IslandTo Get Here - From Semporna Town, it is a 40 minute boat ride, while from Mabul Island, it only takes 20 minutes. From Kota Kinabalu, you need to fly to Tawau City, then drive down about 90 minutes to Semporna Town where you catch your boat to Mabul Island. Ultimate Experience - To scuba dive at Barracuda Point and be inside the vortex of Barracudas or Jack Fish, and have your photo taken while doing this. This is the ultimate scuba divers dream.One of the cave entrances at Niah National Park7. Niah Caves in SarawakOne of the oldest trading caves in Malaysia is known as the Niah Caves, and come with an interesting history that dates back to the neolithic era. Located just out of Miri city in Sarawak, the multiple caves are located in the Niah National Park.For the adventurer, Niah is one of the top three caves to visit in Malaysia, due to the sheer massive size of it. One of the caves that will have you mesmerized is the Traders Cave, as seen in the photo below. Just look at the comparison of the people in the photo.Traders Cave in Niah, look at the people in the photoTo Get Here - It is 90 minute drive one way from the city of Miri, and you will need a tour company to arrange for this. Park fees and guide is a must, as the caves are huge and you may even get lost exploring. Ultimate Experience - Visiting this cave and seeing the prehistoric cave paintings that dates back over 40,000 years.Glimpse inside the Mossy Forest of Cameron Highlands8. Mossy Forest in Cameron Highlands, PahangFor a true Lord of the Rings experience, head over to the state of Pahang, and you will find the mesmerizing Mossy Forest in Cameron Highlands, which is also one of the most unique natural attractions in Malaysia. The mossy forest is accessible via road by trekking or even taking a tour company service to explore this place. Located just out of the Brinchang town area, it takes about 30 minutes drive or a two hour trek there. This is one location where you can get some really nice photographs, or even insta-worthy pictures, and it is highly recommended you go in the morning when it is nice and sunny.Moss growing everywhere in the forestTo Get Here - Self drive, hike or engage a local tour service with guide from Brinchang Town in Cameron Highlands. From Kuala Lumpur, it is a four hour drive one way to Cameron Highlands. Ultimate Experience - Do a slow trek from Brinchang and leave early in the morning. Bring contrasting clothes to take some selfies here, perhaps even dress up as Gandalf.A scale model of Maluai Basin outside the visitor center9. Maliau Basin in SabahThis is one place that not many people have ventured into, and is highly recommended for extreme nature lovers, trekkers, hikers, campers and even bird watchers. Maliau Basin is also known as the Lost World of Sabah, and credit goes to this place being one of the least explored places in Malaysia. This Class One Protected Forest is off limits to walk-in tourist, and one needs to engage tour companies that specialize in trips here. Imagine from the main entrance of the basin to the study center, it takes a six hour trek one way, and the basin goes all the way in where you may need a three day two night trip just to visit the famous seven tier waterfalls or Maliau Falls.The Maliau Falls, a 7 tier waterfall taken from a helicopterFrom the Maliau Basin studies center, it is a 23 km trek through thick rainforest and park rangers are required to bring you through one of the most amazing rainforest in Southeast Asia. You can also expect some amazing flora and fauna here. To Get Here - From Kota Kinabalu City, it takes about four and a half hours drive to the entrance. From Tawau, it only takes you three hours drive. Ultimate Experience - Doing the full Maliau Basin experience, trekking to the Maliau Waterfalls, and then trekking to the Camel Trophy Camp.The amazing cobra sea stack at Bako National Park10. Cobra Sea Stack at Bako National Park in SarawakThis unique rock formation in the sea has been one of Sarawak's iconic natural landmark for decades. Located in the Bako National Park waters, the cobra head sea stack is best seen during the low tide and in the mornings. Visitors are only allowed to see the sea stack from a boat, and you are not permitted to climb onto it as the currents and waves are pretty strong.While seeing the cobra sea stack here, your guide will also show you some other unique rock formations in the vicinity, which are equally stunning. One needs a sharp eye to identify some of them too. To Get Here - You need to book a Bako National Park tour in Kuching, and from Kuching, it takes about two hours to get to the national park. From the Bako Jetty, local boatmen will take you to the national park, and just before reaching, they will bring you to the cobra sea stack for a photo, depending on the tide of course. Ultimate Experience - Well, it's a sea stack and you will be seeing it from a boat, so there is no ultimate experience for this, except getting a nice photo with blue skies and from the right angle.Silhouette of Mount Kinabalu. Photo taken from Crocker RangeConclusionThe places listed above have been personally visited by me, hence they are first hand experiences that I am sharing here. Many who come up with list like these are usually desktop writers who only research the info online and publish the listicle. For me, I have been travelling extensively for 30 years all over Malaysia, and my work has taken me to many interesting and unique places. Hence I share the info with my readers here, and they are all actual experiences. If you think there could be other natural wonders of Malaysia that needs to be listed down here, do let me know in the comment form below, and I will gladly look into it.If you are on Instagram, you can also follow my MalaysiaAsia account, where I post quite a number of photos on Malaysia from time to time. Here's wishing you a wonderful trip to Malaysia if you are planning to come to this part of the world, and have a great time here.
Friday 21st of December 2018 01:39:00 PM
- Malaysia Airports, Airlines Booking Fees and Taxes - All You Need To Know
With many people traveling many times a year from Malaysia, some travellers have been hit hard by hidden booking fee charges from airlines and also the increasing airport taxes and fees. Well, this article sheds light on all you need to know about the Malaysia Airports and Airlines booking fees and taxes, that may even shock you. Over the years, many air travellers have had things easy, but in the last few years, much has changed in terms of online booking fees and even the increasing airport taxes. Debates over this have been common between the airport officials and airlines, which has also been publicized on mainstream media, and of course on social media too. All You Need To Know About Malaysia Airports and Airlines Booking Fees and TaxesFlying through KLIA2 nowadays can be quite stressfulFrustrations keep increasing nowadays when travellers find a cheap priced ticket to and from a destination, and only to find out that the total fee to pay has increased at the payment page. This simply means, when you make that booking to Bali, Indonesia, and you see your to and from ticket costing only RM450.00, and when you are about to make payment, it jumps to RM490.00. If you go back 10 or 15 years back, booking airline tickets in Malaysia was such a joy, and I remember those days when there was a free ticket promotion on AirAsia, I only paid the fuel surcharge. Yes, back then, it was under RM100 per person, and I clearly remember booking a ticket to Laos for two person in 2008 for under RM200.00. This was also during the free air ticket promotions, and there was only minimal charges imposed. Nowadays, things are different, and sometimes complicated for the passengers, but there are those who do not really care. They just want to travel, and that is all, regardless of the fees and so on.AirAsia's booking fees and taxes noted when you book a flight ticketHidden Charges For Booking Airline Tickets OnlineLately, there has been a number of complaints from consumers about the exuberant hidden fees when they make an airline ticket booking online. In December of 2018, outspoken blogger Wee Choo Keong, had published an article about the hidden airline booking fees that totals up to RM38.00 per booking. Back in January of 2018, local newspaper The Sun Daily also ran and article about the end of extra charges by airlines in Malaysia. However, to day, nothing has changed, or there could be even other kinds of fees. I have taken the initiative to explore some of the popular airlines in Malaysia and listed down all the different fees involved when you make an airline ticket booking online; Passenger Service Fee - RM11.00, RM35.00 or RM73.00Booking Service Fees - RM20.00Credit Card Processing Fees - RM8.00Debit Card Processing Fees - RM4.00Direct Debit Payment Fees - RM6.00KLIA2 Fee - RM3.00 *Fees above based on November 2018The taxes and fees when booking online for Malaysia AirlinesMalaysia Airports Passenger Service Charge Fees (PSC)Also in 2018, there was much controversy over the passenger service charge or PSC, and the government had intervened in this area where a new tariff was imposed on passengers traveling out of Malaysia. Previously, the PSC at the KLIA2 was priced at RM50.00 per person before the revision. To understand more about this situation, read this article published on The Malaysian Reserve, dated 23 July 2018. For those who still do not know what is this all about, below is a break down of the passenger service charge or PSC fees per person up to 2018;Domestic Travel - RM11.00 per personAsean Countries Travel - RM35.00 per personInternational Flights - RM73.00 per personYou should also know that the Passenger Service Charge is also collected by Malaysia Airports, and not the airlines or government, with a reason of running the airport. With this PSC tax collected by Malaysia Airports, the issue about KLIA2 is still a hot topic, where many consumers have and still are complaining about the poor facilities and layout of the terminal. One main question being thrown about who designed KLIA2? While it looks modern, but overall, it is not passenger friendly at all. If you have taken an AirAsia flight, you will know what I mean.Malindo Airlines booking fees section with all the taxes and chargesMalaysia Airport Departure TaxOn top of the PSC imposed on passengers traveling from airports, there has also been a new departure levy being imposed to travellers. This is not the same as the PSC. Effective 1st June 2019, air travellers will have to pay a new airport departure tax, which has been high on debated among consumers and also industry players. The New 2019 Malaysia airport departure tax is;Asean Countries - RM20.00 per personNon-Asean Countries - RM40.00 per personWhen you total everything up, you are in for a nice hefty amount paid in all kinds of taxes. This will surely add up into consumers travellers cost, while it does not really effect business travellers. But for some strange reason, Malaysian always amaze me, as when the news breaks, everyone will complain, but give it a few weeks or months, and everything goes back to normal. The Minister at the transport ministry had stated that the departure levy imposed at the airports is in line with raising revenue for the government. He also stated that other countries including Thailand and Indonesia have been collecting a departure tax for all passengers in their respective countries. One of the main reasons cited for this departure tax is to encourage the development of domestic tourism among the local Malaysians. The fees when booking Firefly Airlines ticket onlineMAVCOM Promises Service Level Agreement PolicyOn July of 2018, the Malaysian Aviation Commission or Mavcom, under the new executive chairman Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi, pledged to introduce a service level agreement (SLA) policy between airport operators and airline service providers.This was created to ensure the continuous growth and sustainability of the aviation industry, as it has never been done before in the history of Malaysia. Over the years, the controversial passenger service charges (PSC) rates have been a major issues for airlines, which affected all airports in Malaysia, regardless if they were small or large. Check Airline Fees and Charges in MalaysiaAfter much research and reading online, I managed to bump into a page on AirAsia where they have listed down all the fees that a passenger has to pay for their travels. Honestly, this is a very good guide done by AirAsia, and they have have a search button for fees depending on where you are flying too. Check the AirAsia Fees and Charges page if you want to know more about any other fees, namely if you are travelling with infants, sporting equipment and so on. Fees listed in that page are also one way direct flights, hence if you are connecting or transiting, you may need to check it twice for the different destinations. The great thing about the fees section is that AirAsia is being very transparent about all their fees. You can check the following fees on that page;Baggage Fees (Online and At Counter Fees)Sports Equipment Fees (Online and At Counter Fees)Other Baggage InformationSeat Booking Fees (All types)Handling FeesProcessing FeesFlight Changing FeesCancellation FeesWheelchair Service FeesHowever, for those booking online tickets on AirAsia, you should take note of the processing and payment fees, as they are all clearly stated as below;- Processing Fee (direct debit) is non-refundable and is charged per passenger, per booking for payments made via UnionPay, Alipay, WeChat, CCAvenue, Rupay, India Wallet, LINE Pay, NAPAS and PayPal. Others will be charged per booking.- Processing Fee (credit, debit, charge cards) is non-refundable and is charged when payment is made by credit debit or charge cards per guest per way at point of purchase.- Please note that airport tax refund can be subjected to a Processing Fee (credit, debit, charge cards)(where applicable). Refund Processing Fee is waived for refunds made in Korea Won for bookings made in Korea.- Booking service fee applies to all bookings made via Call Centre, Sales Offices, Airport Sales Counters, Indonesia AirAsia Carrefour booth and ATSC's.Passengers at KLIA2 International Departure Section ConclusionDue to many complaints over the years, a number of consumers are pointing their fingers at the Ministry of Transport, and why they are allowing this to happen.You will easily come across many articles published by the mainstream media where airlines, airports and government people will be pointing fingers or trying to work out issues on the airports, taxes and so on.Finally, consumers may think that budget airlines or even full service airlines may be cheap when they offer promotional flights, but when you look at all the fees imposed, you will be surprised.
Wednesday 19th of December 2018 07:46:00 AM
- Rainforest World Music Festival Wins Asia-Pacific Excellence Awards
With a 21 year history for a music festival held in Sarawak Borneo, the Rainforest World Music Festival wins the prestigious Asia-Pacific Excellence Awards 2018 for the film and video category in Dublin, Ireland. Helmed by the Sarawak Tourism Board, the unique music festival held in a rainforest was shortlisted as a finalist under the tourism and travel category for the 2018 Asia-Pacific Excellence Awards.The Rainforest World Music Festival or RWMF as it is commonly called, is also a multiple award winning festival, and is rated as one of the Top 25 Music Festivals in the world to attend by Songlines Magazine. CEO Sharzede Salleh Askor (Right) and Daniella Lupi, STB?s Assistant Digital Marketing ManagerAsia-Pacific Excellence Awards For RWMF and Sarawak Tourism BoardUnder the category of 'Film and Video', Asia Pacific Excellence Awards organizers noted the below statement for the winner;"The festival first started in 1998 showcasing world music, bringing into Sarawak, indigenous performers from all corners of the world performing a special kind of music which is aptly described as ?the music of, or resulting from, traditional or indigenous cultures?.Under the 'Travel and Tourism' category, the Sarawak Tourism Board was also among the three finalist, which the organizers had quoted;"Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) has been recognized as one of the leading music festival in the region. Efforts on implementing sustainable events? elements within RWMF are important in today?s environment, where RWMF 2018 sees implementation of recycling and food waste management for the third year. RWMF 2018 once again made important contributions towards reducing environmental impacts".Sarawak Tourism CEO Sharzede Salleh Askor receiving the award in DublinThe Rainforest world Music Festival 2018When Is The Next Rainforest World Music Festival? For those who have not attended this unique music festival, the next RWMF will take place from 12-14 July, 2019. The three day event will also be held inside the Sarawak Cultural Village, which is about an hours drive from the city of Kuching. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets early to get the early bird discounts, while hotel booking should also be done as early as possible for good rates. It is also recommended that you dedicate time to also explore around Kuching and Sarawak, since you plan to make you way here. For 2019, the Sarawak Tourism Board will embark on a campaign called "Sarawak More To Discover", where focus will be put on various categories in tourism. This simple says that there is more to discover when you visit Sarawak, namely the categories of culture, nature, wildlife, ecotourism and food.Each district and region around Sarawak is different from one another, making it a unique experience to travel from place to place, and this is all in part with the tagline. The crowd at the recent Rainforest World Music FestivalRainforest World Music Festival 2019Date: 12 to 14 JulyVenue: Sarawak Cultural Village, SantubongTickets: OnlineWebsite: http://rwmf.net/ConclusionIt is no surprise that the Rainforest World Music Festival is a multiple award winning event, due to the overall uniqueness, creativity and conservation efforts done by the tourism board. Volunteers of the RWMF are the main people behind the scene that make this a success, and for the last 21 years, the event has grown to become one of the world's most unique music festivals to attend. If you have not attended the Rainforest World Music Festival, then my personal recommendation is to do it at least once in your lifetime.
Saturday 8th of December 2018 08:20:00 AM
- Fox World Theme Park Genting Malaysia Cancelled
The supposedly new 20th Century Fox Theme Park in Genting Malaysia has been canceled, and new owners Genting Malaysia has also sued Fox and Disney over this matter. The shocking news was published on The Edge Markets on 27th November 2018, months before the opening of the first 20 Century Fox theme park in Asia. This comes as a massive shock for many theme park lovers, and also to the tourism industry of Malaysia.Many have been looking forward to the opening of this world class theme park which was to be the first of its kind in the world, and here in Malaysia. It was also set to make Malaysia the theme park capital of Southeast Asia, but with the current shocking news, this is a huge set back for the country. 20th Century Fox World Theme Park Malaysia Cancelled Over the last four years, the news that Fox World was collaborating with Genting Malaysia to bring Asia's first 20th Century Fox theme park was news to theme park lovers. During that time, opening dates kept being postponed due to many reasons. This made people eager year after year, with the anticipation of having one of the most modern theme parks here in Malaysia.The progress of the Fox World theme park photographed in April 2018Construction is almost done, with about 10% to 20% left to finish, before officially opening its doors to the public somewhere in early 2019. On my last visit there in May of 2018, I had personally seen the latest updates on the 20th Century Fox World construction, where most of the rides have been installed. Final touches were being done, and anyone visiting Resorts World Genting using the cable car, would have seen the ongoing construction. The cable car passes over the new theme park before stopping at SkyAvenue Genting. Why Did 20th Century Fox World Theme Park Pull Out Of Genting Malaysia?According to reports, Fox and Disney pulled out by terminating the Genting-Fox deal. The main reason was that Disney does not want to be associated with a gaming business. Disney also stated that they do not want to be associated with any gambling or gaming as the companies brand strategy was purely family friendly. Genting has been a resort and entertainment facility for as long as anyone knows, and they operated their own theme park before signing a deal with Fox in 2013. In April of 2018, Genting announced the launch of the Fox World Studio Store in SkyAvenue, with a massive opening. The Fox World Store Malaysia was to compliment the soon to open theme park and carried official merchandise for the park. Progress of the Fox World theme park seen from the cable car in Genting MalaysiaWhat Is Next For The New Genting Theme Park? For now, Genting Berhad is suing Fox and Disney for more than USD$1 Billion in damages, and many are awaiting to see what transpires from this. However, with the Genting new theme park almost complete, it would be no surprise that Genting themselves will take over the entire project under their own brand. After all, it is 90% complete, and Genting themselves just need to rebrand and probably launch it somewhere in 2019. Prior to this shocking news of the new theme park being cancelled, I previously wrote about 10 facts on the 20th Century Fox World Theme Park in Genting Malaysia. The Genting group is also no stranger to the entertainment world, having successfully managed and operated the Genting theme park till it closed in 2013 for the new project. Some of the Fox World rides being constructed, photographed in April 2018ConclusionWith all of this happening, there are sure to be much speculations, and many parties writing about this shocking news. From my end, I have been following the 20th Century Fox World theme park news since day one, and have been getting reliable information from reputable sources directly linked to the project. Anyway, with the 20th Century Fox World theme park project cancelled, we now await to see what will Genting do with the existing structure, which is almost 90% complete. If you have any feedback or opinions, I would love to hear it in the comment form below, and we can now just wait for any upcoming news on this massive theme park project in Genting Malaysia.
Tuesday 27th of November 2018 05:19:00 AM
- How Bird Watching in Sabah Became The Top Destination In Malaysia
While everyone is writing about ecotourism, beaches, mountains, cultures and food of Sabah, it is little known that the sport of bird watching has become one of the most successful sub-genres of wildlife tourism in all of Malaysia. First of all, what is bird watching? Who does it anyway? And you will be surprised on how much tourism and revenue this hobby has brought into Sabah. Yes, this is not something where you come for a four day and three night excursion to Sabah. In this article, I would like to share information on how avitourism or bird watching in Sabah became one of the favourable and top destinations in Malaysia over the years. It is something that many did not see potential in, until some tourism numbers and facts were shared in recent years.Bird watching in Sabah by tourist.Bird Watching In Sabah, Malaysia BorneoSabah sits in the north part of Borneo, which is shared by Kalimantan, Brunei and sister state Sarawak. Since the 1990's, there have been some passionate bird watchers from Sabah, who saw a lot of potential is this area, and hence put their effort in bringing this sport and hobby to the next level. Before you continue to read on, I am a casual bird watcher and photographer, who was introduced to this nature loving hobby by Cede Prudente in 2008, which makes it a good decade of birding for me. Over the years, I have visited numerous destinations all over Sabah, Sarawak and Malaysia to document and write about this. And to my surprise, I have found out that it is only in Sabah, where bird watching is doing the best among any other state in Malaysia. The main reason for this is that the people who are involved in this circle have put in 100% dedication to bird watching. This resulted in many local tour guides, who ventured into being a bird guide, by studying the Sabah birds and attending the many training and events that are organized by various bodies.Birding in th Sabah rainforest is an exciting adventure.The bird guides are the most important factor to avitourism, and over in Sabah, I can vouch and say that all of the bird guides there speak a good command of English. This is a very important factor for international bird watchers that want to travel around for their hobby.And for those Chinese or Japanese bird watchers heading to Sabah, there are even Mandarin and Japanese speaking bird guides here. This goes to show how important birding in Sabah has become.Resorts and hotels also play an important part in bird tourism, where a number of them in Sabah actually print out a bird checklist for their resort area. One of them is the Tabin Wildlife Resort, which gives guests a wildlife checklist booklet, including birds, mammals, insects and frogs. Bird watchers at the Rainforest Discovery Center in Sandakan, SabahWhy is Bird Watching important for Sabah? Bird watchers or birders make up some of the high yield tourist, who spend three times more than the average common tourist. While most tourist would spend three to seven days in Sabah for sightseeing, bird watchers would spend a minimum of ten days to two weeks to fully see as many birds as they can when in Sabah. To give you an idea of bird watchers from around the world, I will list down an estimate of how many bird watchers there are from each region of the world.From there, you can imagine tapping just 1 percent of those numbers from each country, and it would be a huge number for Sabah. It was also documented that Americans contributed over USD 80 Billion to the US economy for bird watching in one year. America - There is an estimate 46 million bird watchers as of June 2018, with around 18 million that travel overseas for bird trips. United Kingdom - Estimate of 6 million bird watchers, 2 million are very active and travel.Netherlands - Estimate of 140,000 bird watchers.Japan - Estimate 35,000 bird watchers from BirdLife Japan.China - 21,000 bird watchers from a 2010 census, with 24 birding societies all over China.Hong Kong - Around 2000 members from just the Hong Kong Birdwatching Society.Where are the Places that Bird Watchers travel? Most bird watchers would stay in their own country to do this hobby, but since social media came around, many have started to explore the world in search of birds, namely the endemic species and below are a percentage of where birders go to find them;32% of birders head to South America28% of birders head to Asia24% of birders head to AfricaBirders cruising along the Kinabatangan River is SabahIs Sabah a Safe Bird Watching Destination? This is one of the main concerns of international bird watchers when they travel, and to date, Sabah has been one of the safest destinations to do bird watching. Most of the locations are in national parks, conservations and forest reserves, making it extremely safe for any bird watching tourist.A list of Important Birding Areas (IBA) in Sabah.Where are the most popular Bird Watching Destinations in Sabah? Sabah has many different types of terrains and destinations for bird watching, and the most sought after locations are where you can find the most endemics. From the east to west coast of Sabah, you can easily spend around two weeks moving from location to location, spending three to four days in each site. Among the highly popular locations, they each are isolated, have their own dedicated resort and also their own dedicated bird guides. This makes it easy and convenient for any bird watcher visiting Sabah. The locations are in no order below;Kinabalu Park - West coastKinabalu Wetland Ramsar Site - West coastCrocker Range - West coastMaliau Basin Conservation Area - CenterDanum Valley - Center to East coastTabin Wildlife Reserve - East coastKinabatangan River - East coastRainforest Discovery Center, Sandakan - East coastTawau Hills Park - East coastBirds of Borneo poster. (Click to see full size)How Many Bird Species In Sabah? The golden question, and to be exact, there are 688 species birds found in Sabah at the point of this writing. To make it even more interesting, out of that number, 54 species are endemic to Borneo Island, and 33 species are endemic only to Sabah.However, most of the endemic birds are spread throughout Sabah, and requires some traveling to get to them. When you book a birding tour, they often offer single or multiple destinations, depending on how much time you plan to spend here.Some of the digiscoping equipment that bird watchers use.Why is Bird Watching in Malaysia Slow?I tend to be asked this question by a number of foreign bird watchers when they are in Malaysia, and the main question is that why is it so hard to get some good bird guides in Peninsular Malaysia? Well, for years, I have spoken to many in this field, and sometimes the answers I get are quite shocking. In Peninsular, there are only a handful of reputable bird guides, and they are always fully booked. Well, after writing so many articles on bird watching in Malaysia, I often get contacted by interested bird watchers from around the world, who plan to visit Malaysia to do bird watching.They occasionally contact me to ask me about recommended birding guides for the places they want to visit. There are some websites that do offer bird watching services, but again, personal recommendations tend to be what people want.At the end of the day, I would recommend most of my inquiries to head over to Sabah, as I know for a fact that there are many bird guides there, unlike over here. From my experience in the last few years, I have found that the local tourism boards are the most important marketing tool for bird watching. And Tourism Malaysia is the national tourism board, who is supposed to promote and market this on their road trips or when they attend events. However, over in Sabah, the Sabah Tourism Board was fast in seizing the opportunity since 2008, by attending some of the international bird watching expos and events around the world. Because of this smart move, it brought up birding in Sabah to an international level.Former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi with Cede Prudente at the Borneo Bird Festival in Sabah.So, how did Sabah Tourism do it? Very simple, they did not think about themselves, and they brought a number of reputable bird watchers, or specialized tour companies that dealt in bird watching to the bird fairs and expos around the world. I strongly believe that you need professionals to share the information, versus sending the tourism board staff for specialized events like this. With that kind of positive and sharing mentality of the tourism board, the information about birds in Sabah was shared from people who knew the industry. This made it easier for the would-be bird tourist that wanted to visit North Borneo or Sabah to do bird watching. In the early years from 2009 to 2015, a number of reputable bird watchers and guides from Sabah have been invited and hosted by the tourism board to attend some of the famous international bird fairs like the British Bird Fair, Dutch Bird Fair, Taiwan Bird Fair, Japan Bird Fair and many others.Hence today, you will see many birders or bird watchers coming from those countries, and many of them return again, possibly with other birding friends.Bird photographers and watchers on a boat.What are the Type of Bird Watchers out there? It is often said that the serious bird watchers or photographers will spend at least one to three weeks on a birding trip, and usually done solo, as a couple or even with a small group. The objective would be that birding is the main focus, where anything else is secondary for this particular group. Below is a breakdown of what serious bird watchers are, and what they want when they travel;Time at Destination - One to three weeks. Accommodation - Must be hotel, resort or lodge.Influence - Must be shared by other birders about a location, logistics and so on.Bird Tour Company - Must be well versed and specialized in birding tours for a long time.Bird Guide - Must come recommended, or well knowledged, and speaks English.Local Bird Guide Books - Operators and guides must have this, or even have it for sale to customers.Expenditure - Most bird watchers will spend considerable amounts of money on their passion and hobby, and about 60% still prefer to pay more for comfort and good food.Birder Age Group - Birders come in any age, from young adults to retirees, and also male and females.Returning Birders - High chance of returning customers, if the service and experience is good. Birders and Bird Watchers at the Kinabalu National Park in Sabah.What can be Improved for Bird Watching in Malaysia? Perhaps if the main tourism board starts thinking differently, then bird watching in Malaysia would gain more worldwide attention. By different, this means allocating or increasing part of their budget to send the right people, those in the birding industry, and the correct media who writes and promotes avitourism for Malaysia. As I have been writing about bird watching in Malaysia for years, I once inquired about sending some media that is well versed in bird watching to the bird fairs, but only to be told that there was no such thing, and there was no budget for this. My main objective was to attend the bird fair and document how Malaysia faired among the international countries. This way, I could understand from what angle we are approaching these bird fairs, versus just having a nice booth, photos and pamphlets of birds to give out.The Sabah birders at the Borneo Bird Festival.Personally, I think that a brand new approach needs to be done in order to promote bird watching in Malaysia, and hopefully, done the right way, it could increase the visibility of Malaysia to potential countries that have a lot of bird watchers. With a total of 785 bird species found all over Malaysia, it is on par with many other popular bird watching destinations around he world. All we need is to tap into this unique market, and by doing so, we can see a new avenue of tourism for Malaysia, and possibly increase the tourist spending dollars too.For the record, I have also done an article about the top birding places in Malaysia if you are interested to know more about avitourism in this part of the world.A Golden-naped Barbet, one of the prize endemic birds of Kinabalu Park.Conclusion At the end of the day, without the support of the specialized tourism sectors and tourism boards, I have resorted to writing about bird watching on my own, and working with a very small handful of bird tour operators in Malaysia. One of them is no other than the Borneo Bird Club, who is also the organizer of Malaysia's largest bird fair called the Borneo Bird Festival, which was in its 10th year in 2018. They are truly one of the best organized bird festivals in Malaysia, which does not lean towards the political side of things. Their objective is purely to share information, organize contests, educating the children, provide talks about birds and conservation and make bird watching a family fun event. I believe they have succeeded in doing so, but sadly, the funding to execute such an event could be better, and also supported by more private sectors.The writer, who is also a scuba diver that does fish watching.Every year, I would attend the bird festival in Sabah, speak to local birders, document events that go on, understand the bird watching industry there, and also get to know more about what is happening in Sabah. I believe that over the years, Sabah has led the way in bird watching for Malaysia, and it is only due time that the other Malaysian states, or the entire country look seriously into avitourism as one of the upcoming and potential subcategories of wildlife tourism to increase tourism numbers and of course tourism dollars.
Tuesday 13th of November 2018 01:45:00 PM
- The Last Lun Bawang Longhouse In Bakelalan
For some reason, I had to write this article about the last standing Lun Bawang longhouse here in Bakelalan, which was inspired on my last visit here in October 2018.Though these people are a minority in the many ethnic tribes of Sarawak, the Lun Bawang people are also one of the smallest of the Orang Ulu group here.They can be found in the Lawas district of Northern Sarawak which borders Brunei and Sabah, where Bakelalan is one of the original and traditional place to see them. After visiting Bakelalan a number of times, I finally got around to learning about this friendly society that live in the beautiful highlands of Sarawak.Frontal view of the last longhouse in BakelalanLast Lun Bawang Longhouse in BakelalanOn my recent visit to Buduk Nur, Bakelalan, I was there on a bird watching expedition, where a cross border initiative was arranged between Sabah and Sarawak to promote birding in Sarawak. It was then when our group had the pleasure of staying at the lovely homestay of Cikgu Sang and his amazing wife, Julia Sang. By the way, Cikgu translates from the Malay language as teacher.Just so you know, there are no hotels in Bakelalan, and only warm homestays that make this one of the best experiential tourism places. We would be out at 7.00 AM daily to explore trails or bird watching, and just before lunch, the group would be back at Cikgu Sang's place for lunch. One of the days when we were relaxing after lunch, I was talking to Cikgu Sang about the Lun Bawang people here, and asked him about their interesting culture. The topic lead on to why there was proper traditional longhouse, and Cikgu Sang pointed out that there was in fact one last longhouse for the Lun Bawang people, and his relatives were living there. Pointing out his window, it was right there, about 200 meters from his home, and not looking like one of those authentic longhouses that I was expecting. Without fail, I got overly excited, and of course, an invitation by Cikgu Sang to visit the Lun Bawang longhouse was the following words. Grabbing my smartphone and camera, we headed to the longhouse, and along the way there, a barrage of questions started coming out from my mouth. Why, who, what, when were all asked, and having been a local growing up in Bakelalan, Cikgu Sang had explained what he know about the Lun Bawang culture, dating back to his grandparents era.Originally, the community of the Lun Bawang people lived in multiple longhouses all over the Bakelalan heartland, coming in from Long Bawan across the border.History also states that the origins of the Lun Bawangs come from central Borneo, and congregated in the Maligan Highland area where they made it their home.A photo of a traditional Lun Bawang Longhouse in Long Semado, taken many years ago.Lun Bawang LonghouseSadly, I do not have any photos of what an original Lun Bawang longhouse looks like, but I did find some examples on the internet, which the photos were taken in Long Semado a long time ago.The last Lun Bawang longhouse in Bakelalan is pretty much a modern wood and brick design, with a total of six doors or 'rumah panjang enam pintu'. This means, six families stay at this double storey building.The two photos above were taken in Long Semado or Long Tanid, many years agoI was informed that in the old days, these longhouses could have up to 20 to 30 doors, and over 100 people from various families staying in one single longhouse.The last few original longhouse were seen back in the 70's and 80's, and over the years, they started to break up and become individual homes.Some of them caught fire due to the materials, but most of them started to modernize and be standalone units.Right now, this one longhouse in Buduk Nur still remains, and from outside, you would not even notice that it is a longhouse.Only when you get closer and get inside, you will see the that this is indeed the last Lun Bawang longhouse left here in Bakelalan, and possibly the entire Lawas and Maligan Highland area.Inside the back portion of the Lun Bawang longhouse in BakelalanThe current Bakelalan longhouse entrance serves as the main receiving hall, family and visitor area for guests, friends and family members.From the front portion, you will walk through the washroom and toilet area, and into the kitchen and common area where families gather, cook and eat.This is one huge and long open area, where there is no divider, hence families are free to walk about in this section of the longhouse.In the kitchen area at the back, it is one long area open to all families. But each family has their own kitchen section and traditional wood stove where they still use for cooking and boiling water.Why did the Lun Bawang people live in longhouses? Well, from research papers, their main reason was for defense against other attacking tribes.However, since the turn of the 20th century, is no longer happening, and most of the thatched longhouses have been replaced by wood, zinc and bricks. Lun Bawang Longhouse PhotosBelow are random photos taken inside the last Lun Bawang longhouse in Bakelalan. I specifically asked Cikgu Sang to show me around, except the personal bedrooms.Just to add that when I visited the longhouse, the entire village was there for their rare bamboo musical instrument tuning session, and you can see it in one of the photos below.Good friend and traveling buddy Kevin Nila also documented the Lun Bawang bamboo band in one of his articles, which stresses on the 'Bas' of bamboo horn.Exterior of the longhouseA common sight at the longhouse main entranceThe family common area in the longhouseFamily and visitors area in the main longhouse A typical wall decoration for each of the family units in the common areaPhotos, a Lun Bawang ceremonial sword and a weaved basket The toilet and bathroom, connecting the main longhouse to the kitchen areaOne of the longhouse kitchens from one unit, at the backAnother Lun Bawang longhouse kitchen set upThe common wood fire stove of the longhouse, each unit has their ownView of the Lun Bawang Longhouse from one end of the back portionA lounge area on the first floor of the longhouse where other rooms are foundLun Bawang men gather to make and fine tune their bamboo instruments in the longhouseThe oldest Lun Bawang man in Bakelalan, aged around 90 years oldOutside the end of the longhouseWhere Is Bakelalan? Bakelalan is located in the Maligan Highlands in the Limbang district of Northern Sarawak. This remote village is also 20 minutes from the border to Kalimantan, and has a border checkpoint.The altitude of Bakelalan is estimated to be around 950 meters above sea level, which makes this village a very cooling place.The immediate neighbor is no other than Long Bawan, a 20 minute drive across the Kalimantan-Malaysia border.The next closest village to Bakelalan in the Sarawak side is Bario, which is another highland village that is home to the Kelabit people.You can also read about my interesting travel to the Bario Highlands, as I have visited the other village numerous times.What the Lun Bawang longhouse looks like from the fieldHow To Go To Bakelalan? There are only two way to get here, and the most practical is by taking a 4x4 off road truck. But depending on the luxury of time, you have the alternative flight you can take. Driving to Bakelalan - Most people do this as it is much easier, but a unique rural journey passing villages and incredible landscapes. The dive from Lawas takes about five to six hours, depending on the weather. The best way to drive to Bakelalan is through the town of Lawas, which sits in between Sabah and Brunei. This place is quite laid back and is one of the known Lun Bawang towns of Sarawak. For visitors coming here, they usually fly into Miri City, then connect with a MAS Wings flight to the town of Lawas. From Lawas, they will embark on the 4x4 journey to Bakelalan. Flight To Bakelalan - This is of course, the fastest way to get here, but there are only two flights a week, and you need to plan your arrival and departures well to meet the flight schedule.Flying to Bakelalan can be done via Miri Airport or Lawas Airport, and in a day, there are only two flights. Tickets should be booked way in advance for these rural flights due to the plane capacity.The planes used are the DCH-6 Twin Otter turboprop aircraft, which sits a maximum of 15 passengers at one time.Check in luggage is 15 kgs, and each additional kilogram is charged at RM2.00 per kilo, which is purely subsidized for the local Lun Bawang people traveling.The Bakelalan Airport is also one of the most unique Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) airports I have visited, and can be a culture shock for regular travelers.A map of the Maligan Highlands and where Bakelalan is locatedWho Should Visit Bakelalan? To be very honest, Bakelalan is not for everyone. Yes, if you love the fast city life, lifestyle cafes, malls, fancy restaurants, fast food and so on, you will not find any of that here.There isn't even an ATM machine or banks available in the highlands, hence cash is king here. Unless you have something of interesting to barter trade? This is a pure and natural destination, without any modernization or development. It is a farming culture that lives in the highlands and perfect for anyone who wants to see the original side of Sarawak.Life remains simple and yet beautiful, with a lot of outdoor activities to participate in. Hence, this place is a bird watchers paradise or for anyone who loves trekking, culture and nature.And if you are considering to visit this stunning place, I have also written about the things to do in Bakelalan as a rough guide.An elderly Lun Bawang lady plays a handmade bamboo flute in the longhouseConclusionIn my few times of visiting Bakelalan over the last few years, nothing has changed here and still remains the way it should be. What got me overly excited was the fact that I managed to see and experience the last Lun Bawang longhouse here in Bakelalan, and I hope that the locals keep it the way it is.I would highly recommend this destination for anyone who prefers an eco tourism experience, and also to see and learn about the amazing Lun Bawang people of Bakelalan, Sarawak.
Saturday 10th of November 2018 05:19:00 AM
- 10th Borneo Bird Festival 2018 - What Can You Expect
The 10th Borneo Bird Festival 2018 will be held in Sandakan, Sabah on 1st and 2nd December, and many are happy to know that the decade long birding event is now coming back to its home ground.Since the conceptualization of this unique bird watching festival which started back in 2009, the Borneo Bird Festival has seen huge changes in the last 10 years, and is also known as the largest bird watching and nature festival in Malaysia. The event has also brought together bird watchers from all over Sabah, Sarawak, Peninsular Malaysia and also from around the world to this event.The very unique RDC steel canopy walk is one of the areas for the bird festivalBorneo Bird Festival 2018 HighlightsWhile the regulars may know what happens during this bird festival in Sabah, it is also important to keep the awareness going, namely to the overall population.The theme for this years Borneo Bird Festival 2018 is 'Born To Be Wild', where strong emphasis has been put on not caging the birds, and letting them be in their natural habitat.The theme also focuses on forest conservation all over Sabah and Malaysia, plus the main highlight is to be able to stop the legal and illegal bird trade which has shocked the world in recent years.Bird watching at RDC, SepilokMany birds have been trapped and hunted to be sold in the black markets, and some of these birds are poached and hunted for their natural beaks, like in the hornbills.Bird and wildlife education is a never ending process, and the best that people can do is by constantly educating the public about this.Another highlight of the event is also to promote nature and bird watching as a hobby, as this is one of the growing trends in experiential tourism.Photographing the animals and birds is also one of the growing hobbies by locals and also many foreigners who come here to experience Sabah's beautiful wildlife. Awareness is never enough, and it is at event like these where you can get more information from the organizers and even the participating vendors.The official banner for the 10th Borneo Bird Festival 2018Activities At The Borneo Bird FestivalThroughout the two days, there are a number of activities that go on during the festival, and they are broken into different areas. Depending on what you or your family want to participate in, the list of events is below, and you can choose. Sabah Bird Race - This is the most popular event where teams need to register and go on a bird watching race around the RDC. Bird Photo Race - Similar to the bird race, but this event is done in a photography style race, where participants photograph the most number of birds during the race. Bird Photography Contest - This contest is open to everyone, and is submitted before the festival, and photos are judged during the festival, where the winners are selected and announced on the final day.A talk going on inside the air-conditioned hall at RDCTalks - Without fail, there will be a number of talks by local and international speakers in regards to bird watching, migrations, conservations and techniques. A number of NGOs will also give talks on conservation and ecotourism. Workshops - These are specialized workshops dedicated to bird watching and conservation, done by professionals in the respective fields. Some include Borneo Bird Run - A unique marathon around Sepilok that is fun for the family, and takes the bird theme. Participants have a best dressed category in this fun run, and over 2000 people will be seen taking part on the final day morning.Some of the bird watching equipment on display at the festivalExhibitions - There are various exhibitions that take place around the event, which will suit all walks of life. Some exhibits display conservation efforts by the wildlife department, WWF and even MNS. Others will be on books, paintings and photography. Bird Watching Equipment - A number of vendors from renown brands will be seen displaying their latest equipment that ranges from binoculars, cameras, telephoto lenses, field scopes, bird and nature book and many other interesting items.At the start of the Borneo Bird RunGuided Nature Walks - Special timed nature walks by volunteer guides will take place on both days where it is free. Interested parties need to just sign up for the guided walks around the RDC. Food and Drinks - There will be a section dedicated to food and drinks at the event where you will find local food like bites, burgers and snacks among cold drinks and juices. Games and Quiz - There will also be a series of games and quizzes held throughout the event, and these are very suitable for both adults and kids.The scene at the Borneo Bird Festival at RDC, SepilokWho Should Go To The Borneo Bird Festival?This is a popular bird watching event in Sabah that attracts all walks of life. The main purpose of this event is to create awareness of the importance of birds and the environment. If you are a nature lover, or even a beginner bird watcher or photographer, this is the perfect place to start. At the event, you will see a lot of beginners, amateurs and even professionals participating.At the RDC, there is also an amazing steel canopy walk that stretches about one kilometer long, and it is a modern design type that can accommodate hundreds of people at any time. For those who live out of Sabah, this event could be something very different compared to other events you may have attended.Personally, I easily recommend attending this, namely because it is in Sandakan, on the east coast of Sabah Borneo.The open aired restaurant at the RDC in SepilokSandakan is also known as the nature city of Sabah Borneo, where there is abundance of nature to be discovered.There is of course the world famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation, Labuk Bay and many other places for wildlife and nature watching. Even around Sepilok, there are a number of nature resorts available for guests to stay at, which is also walking distance to the Rainforest discovery Center or RDC as it is commonly called.On one of my previous trips, I had the pleasure of staying at the popular Sepilok Nature Resort, which is perfect for any kind of traveler.Bird watchers in full attire for the eventWhat to Bring to the Borneo Bird Festival?As this is an outdoors event at the RDC, you will be walking around most of the time. A majority of the events take place outdoors, hence you should be prepared for any weather changes.In a rainforest, it can also get hot and humid, so here is a list of what you can bring to the RDC for the Borneo Bird Festival;Mosquito or insect repellentPoncho, raincoat or umbrella in case it rains as the walkways are not coveredBottled water and snacksA pair of binoculars are worth bringing if you want to see birdsProper trekking or sports shoes here as some of the walkways can be slipperyThe Bornean Bristlehead look out point at the RDCTickets / Entrance Fees for the RDCMalaysian Resident RM 7.00 : Adults RM 3.00 : Children 5-17 years old Free: Children below 5 years old Non-Malaysian (Foreigners)RM 15.00 : Adults RM 7.00 : Children 5-17 years oldFree : Children below 5 years oldOpening Hours for the RDC:Daily 8.00 am to 5.00 pm (Daily)Birders start as early as 6.00 am at the car park area Rainforest Discovery Centre Address and Contact;PO Box 140790715 SandakanSabah, Malaysia.Telephone: + 60 089 533780 / 781Website: Rainforest Discovery Center SepilokA list of birds of BorneoA couple of Pied Hornbills spotted at the RDCHow To Go To RDC In Sepilok? The Rainforest Discovery Center or RDC is located just out of Sandakan city, and is about 23 kilometers away. To get here, you have a few options which includes taking a taxi, Grab or renting your own car. For locals, it is a 30 minute drive without any traffic jams.Driving Directions To RDCDrive along Jalan Labuk from Sandakan TownTurn left at the Mile 14 roundabout (with a large Orangutan statue)Drive along until you see the large, pictorial RDC sign and turn rightDrive for about 500m to the RDC car parkTaking A Bus From Sandakan To Sepilok - There is a public bus service from Labuk Bus Company that departs from the Sandakan Town Council, and the timings are not as frequent.The bus stops at the junction of the main road of the Sepilok entrance and you then need to walk in about 1.5km. This is not recommended, unless you are doing a budget travel around this part of Sabah. Flying To Sandakan - There are a few airlines that fly from Kuala Lumpur to Sandakan, where AirAsia has the most flights a day. Malaysia Airlines has two direct flights into Sandakan from KL. AirAsia also connects from Kota Kinabalu and some other cities to Sandakan for those traveling locally. Taxi or Grab Ride Hailing Service - Taxis and Grab is available, but you need to weigh the pros and cons of this, as you know Grab is the cheaper alternative. 10th Borneo Bird Festival in Sandakan InformationDate: 1st and 2nd December 2018 (Sat & Sun)Venue: Rainforest Discovery Center (RDC), Sepilok, SandakanTime: 8.00 AM to 5.00 PMOfficial Website: Borneo Bird FestivalThe Kabili-Sepilok rainforest has been recognized as an Important Bird Area or IBAThe Sandakan Borneo Bird Club (SBBC) home at RDCThe incredible team of organizers and bird marshall's for the Borneo Bird FestivalConclusionIf you love birds and nature, this is one birding event you should consider attending. Even though it is located in Sandakan, Sabah, it is very well organized and truly an eye opener for many. For me, I live in Semenangjung Malaysia, and in the fast city life of Kuala Lumpur, and I have attended quite a number of bird events around Malaysia.But on my first event trip to Sandakan to witness the second Borneo Bird Festival in 2010, I was taken aback with the overall organization done by the local bird club called Sandakan Borneo Bird Club. Never did I expect that a local organized bird festival could have been done in such international standards, attracting people from all over the region. Therefore, I would easily state that the Borneo Bird Festival 2018 is something you may not want to miss if you have been planning to visit this part of Sabah.
Friday 2nd of November 2018 01:15:00 PM
- Travel Visa Guide Information for Malaysians
For most Malaysians, we have the luxury to travel visa free to many countries, and this is thanks to the Commonwealth agreement among each of the countries. Over the years, we have traveled without issues to many countries without the hassle of applying for any type of visa. But since the last ten years or so, more Malaysians are getting adventurous and starting to travel to new destinations, and a little further than the regular destinations around Southeast Asia. Malaysians love to visit ChinaWhy Malaysians Love TravelingThe mushrooming of budget airlines in Malaysia and around the region has been the biggest contributor to the rise of travel among Malaysians. In fact, it has become a normal weekly or monthly affair for friends or families to be traveling somewhere out of Malaysia. Another reason for this is also thanks to the many long weekends from the public holidays that Malaysia observes. Yes, Malaysia is one of the rare countries that sees over 17 public holidaysIf you ask any Malaysia if they have been to Bali or Bangkok, chances are that they have been not once, but several times! Well, this goes to show how much Malaysians travel nowadays, and why some travelers opt for further and no to commercialized destinations. Applying for a China Visa in Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaHow To Apply For Travel Visas for Malaysians?There are a few ways you can do this, and of course the most common one is by visiting the embassy of the country you want to visit. But many people who are first time travelers would not know the proper procedures in getting a visa, hence you should always do your homework on the country you are visiting. Back many years ago, Japan used to require a travel visa to visit, but in recent years, the Japanese government decided to waive the visa requirement for Malaysians, making travel there easy. China however, still requires a travel visa, and no matter which part of mainland China you visit, you still need to get one done beforehand. Through my research, I actually did find information for China visa application, which was very helpful. General China visa applicationTypes Of Travel VisasThere are three main types of travel visas that Malaysian would be applying for, and this depends on which country you are planning to visit. Hence it is important to know which kind of visa you need. Single Entry Visa - This visa is used when you visit a country only once. For example, if you are visiting Beijing in China for a holiday, you simple need to apply for this one time single entry visa. Multiple Entry Visa - Similar as the single entry, this visa allows you to travel to the country as many times as you like throughout the duration of the visa. Example would be if you are in love with Tokyo and plan to visit there again and again, the multiple entry visa is recommended. Transit Visa - This is a common visa for anyone who is traveling to Europe and transits in Dubai or Qatar and want to explore the transit country. For example, if you are traveling to London or Europe on any Middle Eastern airlines, you will most definitely be transiting at one of the countries of the United Arab Emirates. And you will want to spend at least a day or two there, where a transit visa is required. Visa On Arrival - This is when you arrive at the airport and get a visa on your arrival. Some countries practice this, and you simply fill up a visa form. Certain countries have waived the visa fees, but some still require you to pay for the visa on arrival.Business Travel Visa - This is only if you are traveling for business and you can apply for a business visa to the selected countries. In this case, a family traveling may have the father or mother going there for business and leisure, and bringing along the family. The working adult applies for the business visa while the family members apply for the travel visa. The last thing you want to see on your passport is this chop. Photo Wikipedia. Cause of ConcernsWhile many think it is easy to get a visa and just travel to the desired country, there are very rare cases where visitors have been turned away at the arrival from immigration officers. Yes, we think it may never happen to any of us, but there have been cases where tourist have been denied entry to a country even he or she has all the proper documents and visas. This is completely out of your hands as the immigration officers at the arrival country have the right to do this. There could be many reasons for this, and you should be prepared for any sudden emergencies like this. The China visa application formFirst of all, it is always recommended to dress smart casual when entering a country, as you do not want to look dodgy or shady. These are warning signs for immigration officers on duty. Second, at times, immigration officers will question you on arrival, asking you all sorts of questions, and if you do not answer them correctly, this is where many visitors get sent back. Questions are usually about where you are staying at, why are you visiting the country, and how much money are you carrying. In order to pass the checks, you need to look presentable, have your visa paperwork in order and never look nervous. The China Visa once applied to your passportConclusionAgain, this article was written purely for Malaysians as we do love to travel nowadays, and at times, we often overlook many things. It is highly important to know if the country you are visiting requires a travel visa, hence you need to get this done at least a month before your travel. China is a popular destination for many Malaysians, and a travel visa is still required for you to visit any part of China. There are services where you can do this online, or visit the Australian Embassy to get this done. While flights are abundance, and with many airlines to choose from, most Malaysians are penny wise and always go for the cheapest and best deal. With so many choices, I often look at many websites and eventually found one to book cheap flights for my travels. The long lines at one of the China immigrationRemember, if you are a first time visitor to China, you need to follow the instructions of completing the online visa application before you head to the China Embassy to get your visa.At the end of the day, I would stress to always find out beforehand about general information of the country you are visiting. The main thing to check if the country requires you to have a visa before visiting, and how long the visa application will take. As many would say, it is better to be prepared rather than get caught off guard, especially if you love to do thing last minute or on the eleventh hour.So, for Malaysians, I recommend getting your travel visa information beforehand, as it will save you heaps of unwanted issues.
Thursday 18th of October 2018 12:33:00 PM
- Sarawak More To Discover Campaign Launch
The Sarawak More To Discover Campaign for 2019 and 2020 was officially launched at the JW Marriott Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on the 16th October 2018 to media and tourism industry players from here . A creative approach in tourism for the coming year, the Sarawak Tourism Board and also the Ministry of Tourism Sarawak came up with a simple and yet catchy logo for this campaign that is schedule to run for two years. The Sarawak Tourism Minister, CEO and other VIP's during the launching in Kuala LumpurWhat is Sarawak More To Discover?While many wonder what the tagline means, it was created with simplicity and with an objective to focus on the unique culture, endless adventures, amazing nature, fascinating food and incredible festivals of Sarawak.The More To Discover logo comprises of seven different colors, where each of them represents the elements and diversity that makes up Sarawak, otherwise known as the Land of the Hornbills.If you notice the letter "a" in the logo, it has cleverly been replaced by the iconic Rhinoceros Hornbill bird, which is native to Sarawak. And finally, the brush strokes of the More To Discover logo font portrays fun and friendliness, which is representing the unparalleled hospitality found all over Sarawak.The More to Discover LogoSarawak More To Discover Logo MeaningFor those who really want to dive deeper into the logo meaning of the More To Discover tagline, here it is below;S - The 'S' is in red color, which represents the Sarawak Flag, and the motif is part of the traditional design for the Dayak and Orang Ulu people of Sarawak.A - The 'A' is orange in color, which represents the vibrant energy and strong spirit of the multi ethnic people in Sarawak.R - The 'R' comes in the amber yellow color, which is also the color of the Sarawak flag, and represents supremacy of law and order, unity and stability in diversity.A - The 'A' in green color is cleverly represented with the head of the Hornbill bird, and signifies the 'Bumi Kenyalang' or Land of the Hornbills.W - The 'W' in blue color reflects the calmness of the ocean along Sarawak?s vast coastline.A - The blue colored 'A' is the same as above, representing the ocean.K - The 'K' also in a darker tone of green represents the lush tropical rainforest in abundance all over Sarawak. Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Abdul Karim giving his talk during the launchingObjective of More To Discover in SarawakThe main mission is to brand Sarawak as a destination for culture, adventure, nature, food and festivals, which is all totally unique to the largest state of Malaysia. The Sarawak Tourism Minister, Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah also jokingly mentioned that Sarawak is not your shopping destination. He also clearly stated that 'If you want to do shopping, just visit Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong or Singapore'. Sarawak has always been one of the more unique states of Malaysia, and located on the island of Borneo, and is shared with Brunei and Kalimantan. The island is well known to the world simply as Borneo too. With such unique flora and fauna, Sarawak boasts of a very diverse multi-ethnic culture and with that comes unique celebrations, festivals, crafts and of course food. The CEO of Sarawak Tourism Board, Sharzede Datu Hj. Salleh Askor giving her opening speechAn incredible 27 ethnic groups make up Sarawak and there are a total of 45 different languages and dialects being spoken through here. This is part of the culture campaign that Sarawak has to offer visitors. The abundance of tropical rainforest only sees fit to have beautiful and unique national parks, and in Sarawak, there are a total of 56 totally protected areas. Out of the 56, there are 37 gazetted national parks, the most in one state for Malaysia. A total of 14 nature reserves can be found and there are five wildlife sanctuaries found in Sarawak. When it comes to festivals, you can find a number of unique ethnic festivals and celebrations throughout the year, and one can only imagine what is being celebrated from the 27 ethnic groups. Modern day festivals also contribute to this area where one of the most famous events is no other than the Rainforest world Music Festival, held for the last 21 years at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong. There is also the Borneo Jazz Festival in Miri, and the Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival among the well known events that see international and local visitors. The amazing marketing and communication team of Sarawak Tourism BoardA Recent Exploration for Culture, Nature and Wildlife in Bakelalan, SarawakI would like to share with you a preview of my recent exploration trip to Ba'kelalan in the highlands of northeast Sarawak just this early October 2018.On this trip, I visited the Lun Bawang community of 9 villages that make up the entire area of Bakelalan, where I spent about five days here with the friendly highland people.Even though this is my second visit here, I learned so many new things, explored many new places and found out even more about the local Orang Ulu here. Check out some of my Bakelalan preview photos below, which were all taken with my Oppo Smartphone on this trip. The general landscape around Bakelalan in SarawakAn elderly Lun Bawang lady plays a bamboo flute in BakelalanMe taking a pose at one of the incredible landscapes of Bakelalan in SarawakConclusionAs I have been continuously visiting Sarawak for the last ten years since 2008, I can only share two words - Amazing Place. After visiting almost all of Sarawak, there is still so much to discover, and this is just me. Imagine what a first timer to Sarawak will discover when he or she steps foot in this unique destination? As far as I know, there is limitless amount of adventure, nature, culture and food awaiting anyone here in Sarawak. If you want a fast city life with shopping and skyscrapers, this is not the place to explore, but if you want a different kind of tourism experience, then Sarawak should be high on your bucket list. And finally, I concur with the Sarawak Tourism Minister, Datuk Karim, where if you want something very unique and different, then it is recommended to visit Sarawak as there is more to discover here.
Tuesday 16th of October 2018 02:06:00 PM
- How To Go To Chemerong Waterfalls
The Chemerong Waterfalls are one of the most beautiful in Malaysia, and this article shares information about how to get here from Kuala Lumpur or anywhere from the country. First of all, you should know that it is possible to make a day trip here to visit the waterfalls, namely for those who just want to take that Instagram shot. And for the serious outdoor and nature lovers, you can book a tour that lets you trek and camp at the Chemerong Waterfalls, which is also known as one of the tallest waterfalls in Southeast Asia. This place is often called the CBL or Chemerong, Berembun, Langsir, and in Malay, this place is known as the Hutan Lipur Chemerong or Chemerong Forest Reserve in the Pasir Raja Forest Reserve of Dungun region in Terengganu. How To Go To Chemerong Waterfalls?The beautiful Chemerong Waterfalls. Note the people at the bottom right of the photoMost of you will either be in Kuala Lumpur or some other city around Malaysia, and many would be wondering how to get to the Chemerong Waterfalls in Terengganu. Before I get into the details of traveling here, you should know what else is there to do around the Chemerong Waterfalls, the park, and its surroundings. Chemerong Waterfalls is located about two kilometers into the Chemerong Forest Reserve, and there is a park entrance fee of RM2.00 per person to enter, and RM5.00 per person for camping.Outside the park entrance, there is a wildlife park office and center where you get your tickets, park guides and so on. The main car park is also located outside here.The Chemerong Park Office and waterfalls at the backThe good news is that you can drive here or from any other city in a few hours, and from Kuala Lumpur, it is only a four-hour drive to the forest entrance.Once you reach the park entrance, you can park your car and make the ticket purchase from the main office here.If you are just visiting the waterfalls, you pay only RM2.00 per person, and it is a one to two-hour trek to the main Chemerong waterfalls.If you are planning to go camping, you need to pre-arrange this and get the necessary documents from the Terengganu Forestry office, book your guide and so on.You may need a minimum of three (3) weeks advance booking for your camping permit. The official contact is listed at the end of this article.A park guide at CBL ChemerongWhat You Need To Know About Chemerong WaterfallsBefore you blindly say "I'm going here", you need to take note that this is not your easy Bukit Gasing trekking trip.Overall, one needs to be fit to trek up this waterfall. If you are a pure city person, make sure you can hike for at least one hour without having to stop every ten minutes. The first thing you need is an entry ticket from the park quarters, and it is compulsory for everyone to pay these fees. Guides are compulsory as they do not allow self trekking here. However, the guide fees are around RM500 a day, for one or two persons, or even a group. You can hire them from the park quarters. Porters are also available for hire to carry up any heavy things, and there is a set price for this where you can arrange this with the park office.Hikers trekking the CBL here. Photo by www.jenalothman.comFor those planning to hike to Langsir, it will take around eight hours one way, and this is excluding stopping and photography. Some visitors are actually photographers and they trek all the way to Langsir to overnight there and photograph the clear and beautiful stars. This spot is well known for stargazing too. If you are trekking the 3D/2N CBL Trail, then do keep an eye out for one of the biggest Chengal Trees in Asia. Also, keep an eye out for the strange hollow tree which is very Instagrammable.If you are expecting 4G coverage, so sorry to burst your bubble, but there is limited cellphone coverage in this area. You would be lucky to get GPRS at some points.But your objective is to trek and hike here, so let's keep to that and use your smartphones to take photographs.Chemerong Forest Reserve in TerengganuWhat is Available at Chemerong Waterfalls Park?This is important for anyone who is planning to visit here and you need to know what is available once you reach the park. I will list down the general facilities found in the main park area;Park Office / Ranger Station - For tickets and bookingsSmall Cafe - Local and simple food and drinksSouvenir Shop - Basic souvenirs soldCar Park - For those who drive hereSmall Children's Playground - Really, it's only for the kidsSurau or Prayer Room - For prayer timeHanging Bridge - Just a hanging bridgeThe park office is managed by the forestry department and is quite well laid out with walking paths to the trails, picnic areas and the start of the waterfall trek.ATV adventure just outside of Chemerong Forest ReserveWhat Else To Do Around Chemerong Waterfalls?You are either coming here to see the waterfalls or most probably for trekking and camping. Hence for those who want to know what else can be done, below are some other activities to explore.Chemerong Offroad ATV Adventure - Your complete ATV adventures in the rainforest of Chemerong. This company provides all kinds of ATV experiences in this area and can be contacted via phone - 012-202 9057Chemerong Outdoor Adventure - This is an outdoor and adventure company that provides trekking, camping, kayaking, team building and many other activities around the Chemerong Reserve. They are all local guides from the area. They can be contacted via phone - 012-202 9057Al-Muktafi Billah Shah - This is the nearest town to Chemerong Forest Reserve, and is where you can get your supplies of snacks, food, drinks, and other smaller items. From the town, it takes a 30-minute drive to the forest reserve.Sunset and stargazing are one of the must experience things at Chemerong. Photo by Zati Iwani Abdul Malek.What To Bring For Chemerong Waterfalls Trekking? Most seasoned trekkers or waterfall hunters would know what to bring, but I am going to list down the general items you need when you visit this place.The list will be broken into two sections, one for just the waterfall day trip visit, and the other for camping overnight here.Chemerong Waterfall Day Trip ChecklistHiking Shoes (Basic, Expensive or Adidas Kampung)Insect Repellent (Malaysian made ones are the best)Poncho (It's a rainforest, and it can rain)Waterproof Bags (Always a must for any trekking trip)Swimwear and Towel (Unless you are not planning to swim here)Sunblock (Especially for morning and midday trekking)Tripod (For photographers)Mini First Aid Kit (Always a necessity)Drinking Water (At least 2 liters per person)Snacks and Power Bars (For those who need it)Chemerong CBL Camping Trip ChecklistHiking Shoes (Basic, Expensive or Adidas Kampung)Insect Repellent (Malaysian made ones are the best)Poncho (It's a rainforest, and it can and will rain)Waterproof Bags (Always a must for any trekking trip)Trekking Gloves (For steep climbs and support)Change of Clothes (Light wear)Swimwear and Towel (Unless you are not planning to swim here)Sunblock (Especially for morning and midday trekking)Tripod (For photographers)Proper First Aid Kit (Required for camping)Drinking Water (At least 5 liters per person)Snacks and Power Bars (For those who need it)Camping Utensils (For those who plan to cook)Raw Food (Simple and easy to cook like instant noodles, eggs)Other general camping equipment (This list goes on)Nadzira from In A Nutshell poses at the Chemerong WaterfallsHiking Reviews of Chemerong WaterfallsOver the years, many hikers have made their way to Chemerong Waterfalls, namely for hiking and camping at the CBL here in Dungun, Terengganu.Since 2016 and 2017, more hikers have been coming here or the amazing experience and I have gathered some of their articles for you to read and see photos. Catherine from 'Catching Travels', shares her 3D/2N camping experience at Chemerong in May of 2017 along with 30 hikers. She shares detail about her journey up, camping overnight and some beautiful photos. Nadzira Hata from 'In A Nutshell' has also experienced 3D/2N camping and trekking at Chemerong Waterfalls in April of 2017. Nadzira is one of those hiking and trekking lovers from Malaysia. MCHiker is also one of those hard core hikers and trekkers from Malaysia who has experience trekking to Chemerong Waterfalls in his detailed trekking blog. His journey was in 2015 and there are lots of photos. Joan from LuvFeelin has also experienced visiting Chemerong Forest Reserve in July of 2016 and spent two nights hiking and camping here. Her blog is entirely in Chinese for those who can read. The various national parks and forest reserves around TerengganuChemerong Waterfall Information1000 feet (305 meters)Chemerong Waterfalls GPS Coordinates: N4.65988 E102.98899 Gunung Berembun GPS Coordinates: N4.63963 E102.97063 Langsir Waterfalls GPS Coordinates: N4.63291 E102.97555Chemerong Waterfalls ContactJabatan Perhutanan Negeri Terengganu,Tingkat 8, Wisma Negeri,Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu,20200 MalaysiaTel: +6 09 6222444 Ext. 6808Talian Terus : +6 09 6221587 / 6274123Email: email@example.comAdditional Info: Chemerong Forest Reserve WebsiteCBL Trekking MapApplication for Climbing and Camping Permit for CBL Chemerong WaterfallsSend to: Pengarah Perhutanan Negeri Terengganu, Jabatan Perhutanan Negeri Terengganu,Tingkat 8, Wisma Negeri,20000 Kuala TerengganuTel : +6 09 627 4155Fax: +6 09 623 6552Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgFees for Chemerong Waterfalls and CampingAccording to the last update in 2017, there are a number of different fees for visitors and they are;Park Entrance Fees: RM2.00 Adults, RM1.00 for childrenCamping Fees: RM5.00 per personPark Ranger Fees: RM500.00 per dayWhat Time Does The Chemerong Park Open?The Chemerong Forest Reserve operated on government hours which is from 8.00 AM till 5.00 PM. If you want to get your park entry, tickets and other fees, you need to do it during these hours. The best is to plan your travels so that you reach here during the park operating hours. And the park office is open seven days a week, including weekends and holidays. An epic photo of Chemerong WaterfallsWhen is the Best Time to Visit Chemerong WaterfallsAnyone planning to visit Chemerong Waterfalls must take note that the park closes during the Monsoon season in east coast Malaysia from late October to mid-March. Why do they close? Because the monsoon period brings a lot of rain, and it can sometimes rain for days. This can cause mudslides, uprooting of trees and even floods, which can endanger the lives of trekkers, hikers or general visitors. It is recommended to visit during the dry season in May, June, and July. However the park is open from March till October, and during the other months, you can expect small showers.On weekends, school holidays and public holidays, this place can get really crowded. So, if you dislike crowds, I will personally recommend you avoid these times and go on a weekday.You will enjoy a peaceful trek with very little people, which is something that I really enjoy when trekking. For those interested, it is best to contact the park office and find out when exactly they close and reopen.Driving Distance from KL to Chemerong CBLHow to Drive to Chemerong WaterfallsFor those driving, this is important information as the road signs are quite tricky. Unless the park has put up more signboards, you need to follow the Waterfall Junction GPS Coordinates: N4.66192 E102.98992Distance to Chemerong WaterfallsBelow is the distance from various cities around Malaysia to Chemerong waterfalls, and also the time taken is from Google Maps calculation.Give and take, just add another 30 to 60 minutes for food and toilet breaks during your journey.From Al-Muktafi Billah Shah - 35.8 KM, 30 minutes driveFrom Kuala Terengganu - 126 KM, 1 hour 45 minutes driveFrom Dungun - 67 KM, 1-hour driveFrom Kuantan City - 147 KM, 2 hours driveFrom Kota Bharu - 265 KM, 4 hours driveFrom Kuala Lumpur - 378 KM, 4 hours driveFrom Ipoh - 431 KM, 6.5 hours driveFrom Melaka - 419 KM, 5.5 hour driveFrom Johor Bharu - 489 KM, 6.5 hours driveFrom Penang - 593 KM, 8 hours driveFrom Singapore - 473 KM, Coastal Road, 7 hours driveFor those without their own transportThis applies to tourists or anyone without a car or bike, there is no public transport to Chemerong Waterfalls. You need to travel to Dungun or Kuala Terengganu and then take a taxi or private car service to the park.There is no bus service to Chemerong Waterfalls so you can forget this option. If you are going in a group, usually you will charter a bus or van for the trip.I would recommend three options;1. Taxi or Private Car Service - First, get the price for a one-way trip. Then get the taxi contact number or make arrangements for him to pick you up when you are done here. I do not think that Grab will pick you up from the park, so please do check on that.2. Rent a Car - You can also rent a car in Kuala Terengganu and self-drive to the park as this would be a fun way to explore this part of Terengganu. Make sure you have a GPS, Waze or Google Maps for this.3. Book a Tour - There are various travel agents that offer special tours here, and you can book them in Terengganu or other cities. For example, if you book one in Kuala Terengganu, they will pick you up, send you there and after you are done, send you back to the city.The Chemerong Waterfall information from Tourism MalaysiaAdditional Information for Chemerong WaterfallsSome people may want additional information about this beautiful waterfalls which is one of the tallest in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.Photography - There is a required permit for any professional photography at the park and you need to apply for this through the forestry office for the photographers permit.This simply means if you are coming here with the crew, equipment, and talents for a photo shoot, wedding photo or other photography, you need to apply for a permit from the park office.Video Shooting - Depending on what kind of filming you want to do, it requires different permits from the forestry department.If you are just doing your own filming for your company, you can get the permit from the park office at RM200 per day. If you are doing a TV commercial, music video or movie that requires crew, you need to apply for a special permit from the main office.Drone Photography - This is still new, but I believe you must inform the park office if you are doing anything commercial here.One of the most beautiful waterfalls in Malaysia, Photo by www.jenalothman.comFinal Thoughts on How To Go To Chemerong WaterfallsThe Chemerong Waterfalls are simply breathtaking and one of the amazing Eco-destinations in Terengganu, Malaysia. If you are an outdoors, adventure and nature lover, this is one of the highly recommended places to visit.And if you are into camping, trekking, hiking, and a waterfall lover, this is one of the highly recommended places in Malaysia to visit. I hope this guide on how to go to Chemerong Waterfalls has come in handy for you.Any questions, comments or updates, please leave a comment in the form below or you can use the contact me form. Have a great trip here.
Friday 14th of September 2018 12:31:00 PM
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