Published in The Peak, December 2012 (Click on images to read the article).
Published in The Peak, December 2012 (Click on images to read the article).
We were recently invited to attend the press conference with Mike Horn and his Young Explorers at Aquaria KLCC to launch Mike Horn’s Pangaea Borneo ACT Project.
Mission: The YEPS will set sail on Pangaea to islands in Sabah like Langkayan and Billian islands. With two coral reef specialists onboard, they will go and look for hotspots where the Pangaea ACT Project can ACT, primarially concentrating on coastal clean-ups and the protection of the corals and marine life in the region. The team have their work cut out for them as they go round the islands cleaning it up, turtle conservation, spotting damaged coral reefs etc . Malaysia is the perfect place for the Pangaea ACT Project as here we can show the contrasts of Nature in its real and natural beauty, against Nature that has been harmed by human habitation.
Meet the heros:Rebecca Berker (Germany. Aged 16) Akira Biondo Shimada (Japan. Aged 19) Leonard Chuan Jun Yi (Singapore. Aged 17) Saraya D’Ath (Australia. Aged 15) Zofia Drapella (Poland. Aged 19) Matthew Graesslin (Swtizerland. Aged 15) Lauren Morrell (USA. Aged 16) Stefan Oosthuizen (South Africa. Aged 21) Jen Ho (Malaysia. Aged 16) Ariane Elle (Malaysia. Aged 16)
As I listened and chatted with these Young Explorers I was amazed by their passion, energy and commitment to these expeditions. Akira for example had gone on Pangaea Mongolia Expedition, Zofia had done New Zealand Expedition, Saraya had done Kamchatka Selection camp, Leonard for the Himalaya Selection Camp… And they’re in their teens! As youth ambassadors they:
As I spoke at the Press Conf, I only hoped that the actions of the YEPs will spread amongst our Malaysian youth to be inspired and say “hey I want to do that!” At the end of the day, youths have the power for change. As for me, I’m so inspired by them that I’m in the midst of brainstorming a project for Malaysian youths inspired by Mike Horn’s Pangaea Borneo Act Project. I know that Malaysian youths are just as committed and eager to work on environmental projects for our community, as I’d witnessed together with 40 Malaysian Red Crescent Youths planting 1000 mangrove trees (see link: Planting 1000 mangrove trees )
If you’re interested to know what the YEPs are getting up to in Borneo, check out Mike Horn’s website http://www.mikehorn.com
Bravo YEPs! Keep up the great work
Kota Kinabalu (known as KK) is situated on the tropical island of Borneo, and is the state capital of the Malaysian state Sabah, which is one of the two states of East Malysia. The location of the city is absolutely amazing, facing the South China Sea and its many islands. KK is famous for the sea food, and particularly for lobsters.
Just around the corner of this peaceful city, you have long sandy beaches, paradise islands, virgin coral reefs, tropical rain forests and the famous Mount Kinabalu (South East Asia’s highest peak), only 90 minutes away.
To enjoy the city life and the gorgeous food, we stayed at Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, which is ideally situated right in the center of town, on the waterfront near the markets. Some of the rooms have been newly decorated with a unique view of the bay to enjoy the sun set.
If you feel a sudden need for a beach getaway or to play golf, then you check out the guestrooms, suites and luxury villas of Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai, located 30km away from the city. The location is absolutely stunning, amidst 3,335 acres of natural and landscaped surroundings. The award-winning 18-hole championship golf course and exclusive Borneo Spa complement the superb facilities of this magnificent resort which boasts eight restaurants and bars with all the leisure activities to enjoy a sunny day by the sea!
We were amazed at our recent visit to the Sarawak Cultural Village and Semenggoh Orang Utan Sanctuary near Kuching. An eye-opener of what’s truly amazing about Borneo Sarawak, that is irresistible!
Located near the Mount Santubong and facing the South China Sea, the Sarawak Cultural Village is also the place for the Borneo Rainforest Music Festival in July. Like a “living museum”, they portray the various ethnic tribes in the Borneo state of Sarawak and its rich cultural diversity:
The Bidayuh (8.4% of Sarawak’s population) – nicknamed by early Europeans as “Land Dayaks” - live mainly in the catchment of the Sarawak and Sadong rivers. They built their houses in mountain fastnesses, tacked to a steep hillside like a huge staircase. This was partly for protection against enemies, partly for access to fresh water.
The Iban, once known as “sea dayaks” (one-third of Sarawak’s population) built their longhouses to last 20 years or until the farmland was exhausted. Many families live together in a single longhouse. The traditional longhouse is made of timber tied with creeper fibre, roofed with leaf thatch, built beside the river.
The shy nomadic people of the jungle, the Penans, live in the dense virgin jungles of Central Borneo. Penan shelters are quickly constructed to last a few weeks or months. Penans are also known to make the blowpipes with poison darts (from the sap of the upas tree) for hunting in the jungles.
Orang Ulu, “up-river dwellers” is used to describe the people living in Central Borneo along the upper reaches of Sarawak’s rivers, and they account for about 5.5% of Sarawak’s population comprising of the Penan, the Kayan and Kenyah. In the past, Orang Ulu were famous as sword-smiths. Traditionally they built their longhouse to last.
The Melanau people (5.8% of Sarawak’s population) used to traditionally live near the sea within reach of the pirates. The Melanau built massive houses 40 feet above the ground. They also differ from most other Borneo people in that they prefer to eat sago rather than rice.
Then we headed to the famous Semenggoh Orang Utan Sanctuary - located 20 km away from Kuching – a safe haven for the Orang-Utan, an endangered species and Southeast Asia’s lone great ape genus. These gentle and shy creatures spend most of their time foraging for food among the trees in private but they’ve learnt to come out of hiding during the park’s regular feeding schedule. Did you know that the word “orang-utan” is derived from the Malay language meaning Man of the Jungle?
This was an incredible discovery for us and I’m proud we have something so amazing here in Malaysia!
PZ (cousin orang-utan).
One of the most amazing experiences you can enjoy in Borneo, is to explore the Gunung Mulu National Park, one of Nature’s most spectacular achievements and the jewel of Sarawak.
Adjacent to the park, The Royal Mulu Resort is beautifully situated along the river bank in a lush rainforest setting. We stayed for two nights in the Royal Suite, and enjoyed the amazing natural scenery and the noises of the wild life surrounding us, and the friendly staff helped us organize with all the nature wildlife activities.
Covering 52,865 hectares of virgin rainforest, which is criss-crossed by fast flowing rivers and clear jungle streams, they are many activities you can enjoy in Mulu. Having only a short weekend break, PZ and I decided to start with a boat ride excursion on the Melinau river to visit the Penan tribe longhouse settlement.
The next day, we explored the long canopy skywalk which is the world’s longest at 480 metres, and 35 metres high. The view and the sensations are absolutely amazing, as you walk in the towering trees where the rain forest pulses with life, hundreds of colorful butterflies, huge insects, green lezards, wreathed hornbills and lush ferns. PZ usually suffers from vertigo, but braved it!
Then we trekked to what is hidden underneath the forested slopes of the mountains: one of the largest limestone cave systems in the world. After an hour trek in the forest, you discover the Lang Cave, small, intimate, with delicate stone shawls draped from the ceiling, masses of stalagmites, stalactites and pillars millions years old made of fragile rim stone.
We finished the day by one of the most memorable experiences of my life: The Deer Cave! You pass through its large mouth and discover the world’s largest cave passage, surrounded by the sounds of millions of bats roosting 200 meters above and thousands of swiftlets swooping in the darkness. The smell of ammoniac from the bats’ feces is overwhelming but the location unique!
Each evening, between 5 and 6.30pm, the 3 million bats stream out from the cave known as the “bat exodus”. They spiral high above your head in the sky, swirling in long ribbon shapes, looking for food. Unforgettable.
Bat’s Dinner time.
It was our first time to trek into such a dense rainforest jungle, and it’s simply breathtaking! Christopher our guide was brilliant! (Do ask for him next time you go!) There is still much more to see in Mulu (such as the famous Pinnacles) so we’ll leave that until the next time we’re back!
After a year in Peninsular Malaysia, I couldn’t wait to discover the beauty of South-East Asia’s biggest island: Borneo. For a Froggy like myself, Borneo was a far and mysterious land of deep jungles, wild nature and untouched beaches. Well, it is true!
PZ and I started our discovery of Borneo with the Malaysian state of Sabah and its most beautiful resort: Bunga Raya.
Located on an island just off the Sabah’s capital Kota Kinabalu, the resort stretches on a long and white sandy beach facing the South China Sea.
Each villa made of timber and hand-crafted is ideally hidden in a virgin jungle where you can spot from your balcony: monkeys, hornbills and the amazing view of the tranquil bay.
To relax after a long walk on the beach in the hot sun with PZ, what better place than the amazing infinity pool, where it is hard to differentiate the sea from the pool. Life is tough on Gaya Island!
At night, the resort is enhanced even more with the beautiful lighting (one of the best in Malaysia): Powerful white spots on the sandy beach so you can enjoy the sea and the fish at night, and colorful lights in the trees to distinguish the wide variety of the jungle. Stunning to finish the evening!
Eco-tourism is often mixed up with “nature” tourism. Nature tourism is the generic term for all activities done outdoors, whereas Eco-tourism means sustainable tourism, which respect nature (through energy saving, waste management, recycling), but also involve the local people in the economy, education in sustainable development and protection of the biodiversity. The best way to protect the environment is to understand its business value.
To celebrate Earth Day today 22nd April, I have selected my favorite Eco-Hotels around the world. What I mean by favorite Eco-Hotels is of course their fantastic locations, facilities and great design, but also their true responsibility in sustainable development. So I highly suggest selecting an Eco-Hotel when you decide to go on holiday, as it will be a memorable experience; it will strongly benefit the environment; and push the local tour-operators in preserving the natural resources.
Seriously look at the pictures below and dare to say no to these gorgeous places!
Gayana Eco Resort – eco-friendly practices, pledging to protect the environment by adhering to Sabah Parks’ policy on the preservation and acute conservation of Sabah’s wildlife
Six Senses Hideaway Hua Hin - Communicating sustainable development to guests is important for Six Senses group. They believe sustainable luxury is possible.
Longitude 131 Resort - The resort is run on solar power and the tents sit on top of a sand dune, built of steel stilts to leave the desert sands beneath undisturbed.
Star Island – The building is architecturally green and they use LED lighting and geothermal HVAC. Water is also provided by the rainwater harvesting system.
Kamu Lodge – a true authentic eco-lodge nestled next to the Mekong River and the jungle. The resort provides employment to the local ethnic Kamu people and the revenue gained from guests goes to a fund to provide basic education for the village’s children.
Tauana Hotel - Water is solar heated, and waste is recycled or composted. Tauana has also implemented a sewage treatment system to protect the land and all food is sourced locally.
Sadie Cove - offers the visitor a unique opportunity to participate in Alaska’s wilderness lifestyle in a genuine, year-round, Alaskan home and lodge, for example planting a new tree with each guest.